Last updated 6 March 2016
BRISTOL 170 FREIGHTERS IN AUSTRALIA

Compiled by Geoff Goodall


A81-3 was one of four RAAF Bristol Freighter Mk.21s.             Photographed at Parafield SA in April 1965 by Neil Follett


Ansett-Mandated Airlines Bristol Freighter Mk.31 VH-BFB at Madang, Papua New Guinea in July 1966
Photo by Barrie Colledge

         The Bristol 170 Freighter was the first British transport aircraft built after the Second World War. It was a large all-metal twin-engined freighter built for low initial cost and cheap operation. Expensive alloys were discarded in favour of steel, a minimum of costly machined parts and no special tools were required for maintenance. The rectangular fuselage interior was clear of obstructions, and the cockpit for two pilots plus engineer station was above cabin, reached by an internal ladder.  To reduce empty weight, the undercarriage was a fixed low drag design. It was powered by two quickly-interchangable 1,675hp Bristol Hercules sleeve-valve radial engines engines. The most notable feature was the hydraulically-operated nose clam-shell doors, which made loading easy and allowed vehicles to drive up a ramp into the cabin.

         The prototype Bristol 170 was built by Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd at their Filton factory at Bristol and first flew 2 December 1945. A passenger version was named the Wayfarer, and various models and cabin cofigurations to carry both freight and passengers were produced. The RAF was an early customer for the Freighter followed by overseas demonstration tours, to generate civil sales. A range of Bristol 170 models were developed, but only these models were operated in Australia:

Freighter Mk.21:    1,690 hp Bristol Hercules 672, rounded wingtips, AUW increased by 3,000 lbs over earlier models
Freighter Mk.21E:  Mk.21 with quick-change seating, heating and noise insulation
Freighter Mk.31:     1,980 hp Bristol Hercules 734, dorsal fin, AUW increased by 7,000 lbs over Mk.21

        By 1953, Bristol needed more space at Filton for Britannia production, and sub-contracted a second Freighter production line to Western Airways at Old Mixon Aerodrome, Weston-super-Mare in Somerset. This company had begun as a small airline with a single DH.83 Fox Moth in 1933, and had dropped its flying operations after the war to specialise in aircraft component manufacture. After military contracts to manufacture parts for Westland Wyverns and DH Vampires, the Ministry of Supply granted leases on other buildings at the airfield to extend factory floor space. Western Airways gained Bristol contracts to manufacture B170 doors, tailplane, control surfaces, and later centre-sections. In 1953 a Bristol working party installed a B170 fuselage assembly jig at Weston-super-Mare and Western Airways commenced production of complete Bristol Freighters. The first of 36 Freighters built by Western Airways was testflown at Weston-super-Mare in September 1953.

     To assist in B170 production, Bristol arranged to have components manufactured by other companies and transported by road to Filton and Weston-super-Mare. Centre-sections were built by Aviation Traders at Southend, and parts built by Aer Lingus at Dublin.

      When Bristol 170 production at both Filton and Weston-Super-Mare finished in 1957, a total of 214 aircraft had been built.

      Western Airways at Weston-super-Mare also carried out the majority of B170 modifications and major overhauls.  These included a major modification program after a series of Freighter accidents around the world in the early 1950s caused by a wing breaking away in flight.   Royal Australian Air Force Bristol A81-2 suffered one of these structural failures at Mallala in November 1953 (see history below).  The subsequent investigations traced the problem to fatigue failure in the wing root ends and main spar structure.  Bristol produced a modification which was proven to be successful. Most British and European B170s were flown to Weston-super-Mare to have the extensive modification carried out at Bristol expense.  Australian civil and military B170s went to Bristol Aviation Services at Bankstown to have their wings removed and the modifications installed.  
Australian sales
        The original Australian agents for Bristol Aeroplane Co and Bristol Engine Co was Aviation Division of the Overseas Corporation (Australia) Ltd, Melbourne under Wing Commander Geoffrey D. Nicholl DFC.  in 1947 this firm arranged the demonstration tour of G-AIMC to all Australian and NZ civil and miltary customers. Despite the loss of the aircraft in a New Guinea ground accident, the tour was considered extremely successful, leading to Bristol Freigher orders from RAAF, RNZAF, ANA and later Straits Air Freight Express in NZ.

       To provide a central maintenance service for Australian Bristols,  Overseas Corporation (Australia) Ltd acquired Airflite Pty Ltd, which had been a booming pre-war light aircraft sales, training and repair business at Mascot.  The revised Airflite was set up at Bankstown Aerodrome as a heavy aircraft maintenance operation, offering conversions of ex military aircraft, and Bristol Freighter overhauls. The RAAF sent its Freighters to Airflite for major work, but the company could not find continuous work and was wound up. By 1953 its role had been taken over by a new company Bristol Aviation Services at Bankstown, which serviced Bristol Freighters and the many military Bristol Sycamore helicopters. In 1963 the BAS hangar and contracts were taken over by Hawker de Havilland Australia Pty Ltd.

       The first Bristol 170 sale in Australia was early 1949 to Australian National Airways, at that time the country's largest domestic airline. ANA had negotiated a deal with Overseas Corporation (Australia) Ltd for a 3 month lease of a Freighter Mk.21 for evaluation.  ANA were happy with the aircraft and converted the lease to a purchase as VH-INJ, plus two additional second-hand Mk.21s.
  

An ANA Bristol Freighter loads a damaged Percival Proctor at Cambridge Aerodrome, Hobart in 1954.
Photo: Mike Vincent collection

        Trans Australia Airlines, the Government-owned competitor to ANA, did not use Bristol Freighters until 1961, when four Mk.31s were purchased from Pakistan Air Force disposals.  TAA pilots and engineers were sent to Karachi to collect the aircraft and ferry them to Australia. To add outside experience, TAA asked aviation adventurer Lionel Van Praag to go to Karachi to assist and join the flight crews for several of the delivery flight - the irrascable Van Praag was experienced on type from 3 years as the sole Captainof Aerial Agriculture Bristol VH-AAH on crop-dusting and freight flying. 
       TAA operated their Bristols only in Papua New Guinea, based at Madang in the Highlands. Two were civilianised for their New Guinea Sunbird Service, while the other two were stripped for spare parts.

       James Sinclair in his book trilogy Balus - The Aeroplane in Papua New Guinea, wrote:
"The Bristol quickly demonstrated its versability by transporting two Holden cars from Madang to Goroka. When the big clamshell doors  opened to disgorge two complete cars, hundreds of watching tribesmen yelled in amazement."

      
TAA's New Guinea Manager, former company pilot Lionel Thrift, said of the TAA Bistol Freighters:
"We looked around the world for suitable freighters and in Pakistan we found Bristol Freighters. They were very good aeroplanes. They carried loads you couldn't get into a DC-3 with those big nose doors. They needed a lot of maintenance but we did eveything except majors in our ex-Qantas workshops. Ours had been stored in the open in Karachi and a lot of insulation on electrical wiring had perished, which led to continual problems."

       The Bristol Freighter in Australia can be summarised in these phases:

- 1947  Demonstration tour by G-AIMC to Australia, NZ and New Guinea

- 1948  ANA introduces the first of 3 Mk.21s for domestic freight, particularly to Tasmania. To Ansett-ANA 1957. Scrapped 1961

- 1949  RAAF acquires the first of 4 Mk.21s for Woomera support.  Retired 1967

- 1957  Aerial Agriculture Pty Ltd, Sydney imported VH-AAH for heavy crop dusting. Later cargo charter.

- 1961  A resurgence when 8 Mk.31s were imported from Pakistan Air Force disposals. To TAA, Ansett-ANA, Pacific Aviation

- 1969  Jetair Australia converted the two surviving RAAF Mk.21s for civil use. Company folded in less than a year later.

- 1971  Air Express Ltd became the last Bristol operator, with a Mk.31 and the two former Jetair Mk.21s

- 17 August 1979: Last flight of an Australian Bristol, Air Express' VH-ADL retired at Essendon

Air Beef Scheme

       The ANA Bristols are often remembered for their role in the Air Beef Scheme in the Kimberley district in the far north of WA.
Poor roads made transporting cattle from remote cattle station to the Wyndham meatworks difficult and inefficient. The Air Beef Scheme was
a proposal to construct an abbotoir on the large Glenroy Station which would kill and freeze beef carcases which would then be flown to Wyndham. Other cattle stations could drive their herds to Glenroy, a much shorter distance than to Wyndham, reducing the loss of condition suffered by ther stock on a long cattle drive.
       Air Beef Pty Ltd was founded in November 1948 as a consortium of MacRobertson Miller Aviation Co, Perth, ANA and a group of Kimberley pastoralists headed by Gordon Blythe, owner of Glenroy Station.  The aviation logistics of the operation were the responsibility of ANA's Planning & Development Manager, Ian H. Gabowsky, who had flown freight for Guinea Airways in New Guinea pre-war, and also held a management position in Cathay Pacific Airways on loan from shareholder ANA in the early post-war years.
      MMA flew a DC-3 for the first 1949 Air Beef season, and ANA pledged a Bristol Freighter for the following seasons, which ran between May-August each year. VH-INL was based at Wyndham for the 1950 season, returning to Essendon in September 1950 with the Air Beef motif painted on the nose doors and the statistics of the season's work. VH-INL returned to Wyndham in May 1951, joined by VH-INJ, and the pair carried 1,360,000 Kg of meat and hides from Gleroy to Wydnham, with station fencing and supplies as back-loading each trip.
      The Air Beef Scheme was a complete success and more pastoralists signed up. The same two ANA Bristols flew the 1952 season, and all three were sent to Wyndham for various periods during the 1953 season, when they averaged 14 trips a week from Glenroy to Wydham, carrying 3,524 head of cattle. The season's report states no mechanical delays were incurred, a remarkable achievement in such a remote area.

     Road construction and changes in government policies resulted in major changes for the 1954 season. A new meatworks was built at Derby and ANA decided to withdraw their Bristol Freighters and leave MMA to operate DC-3s on a new Air Beef network joining Glenroy with both Wyndham and Derby.  MMA continued until 1962, when road development allowed widespread use of trucks to transport cattle.
     
Pakistan Air Force
       Significant to the story of Bristol Freighters in Australia is their use by the Pakistan Air Force. Eight of these aircraft were sold to Australia in 1961.

       Military customers for the B.170 included RAF, RAAF, and the air forces of Argentina, Burma, Canada, Iraq, New Zealand and Pakistan.   The largest operator by far was the Royal Pakistan Air Force (renamed Pakistan Air Force from 1956) which operated a remarkable total of 73 Bristol Freighters. These comprised 35 Mk.21s designated Mk.21P with observation windows in the nose doors, followed by 38 Mk.31Ms, the military model of the Mk.31 with nose door windows, also used by New Zealand and Canada.

       In 1952 when the Royal Pakistan Air Force was considering replacements for its large Dakota transport fleet, the British Government forced its hand with a demand for compensation for a cancelled order for Bristol Brigand fighters. The Pakistan Government was persuaded to take Bristol Freighters in lieu of the compensation. As well as the transport and troop carrier role, they undertook tactical missions along the Indian and East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) borders.  They must have proven their worth, because Pakistan later ordered 38 of the powerful Freighter Mk.31Ms . These were delivered from England to Pakistan in groups of 3 or 4 aircraft.
      With so many Bristols on strength, they were used for a variety of tasks from VIP to training. There are vague reports that some were fitted as bombers and in 1961 Freighters were fitted with spray bars to spread insecticides on a widespread grass hopper plague.
      During 1960 a number of retired Freight 31Ms were offered for disposal. Eight were purchased by Australian operators:
Ansett-ANA (3)
TAA (4)
Air Express (1)
     The eight were collected by Australian crews in early 1961, and delivered to Australia in full Pakistan Air Force camouflage, with a Pakistan civil registration painted over the camouflage. On arrival, three were stripped for their engines and parts and the others underwent major overhauls for Australian certification as civil Mk.31s.



1.   BRISTOL FREIGHTER DEMONSTRATION TOUR:   One Mk.1A

                      Bristol Freighter Mk.1A          c/n 12793         Merchant Venturer                                           G-AIMC
46-47
Built at Filton, Bristol by Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd.  Production Mk.1A
3.12.46
Registered G-AIMC: Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd, Bristol
14.3.47
British CofA issued

Retained by the manufacturer as a demonstrator
19.3.47
Departed Filton on demonstation tour to Australia and New Zealand.
Configured with 16 passenger seats in the rear compartment,  300 gallon long range fuel tank and a modiufied front entrance hatch to allow parachute container dropping.
Name Merchant Venturer was painted on the side on the nose, with flags of both countries

Crew for flight to Australia was:
Captain R. Ellison,
Captain Wolf loaned by Airwork Co as pilot/navigator as far as Calcutta
Radio operator J. Lansdale,
Engineer (engines) Mr. Davis,
Engineer (airframe) Mr. Howell.
Bristol Sales Director Captain Bartlett was on board, provided with a personal cabin and berth.

At Calcutta Qantas Empire Airways loaned unnamed Pilot/Nav and a Radio Operator to Darwin
10.4.47
Arrived Darwin NT
13.4.47
During a flight from Darwin, the cockpit roof hatch detached in flight and struck the tailplane causing significant damage.  Parts were despatched from England on a chartered Avro Lancastrian which reached Darwin on 18 April.
23.5.47
G-AIMC arrived at Melbourne-Essendon
6.47
Undercarriage modifications at Parafield by Deptment of Aircraft Production, on contract from Overseas Corp (Australia) Ltd, Sydney, the Australian Bristol agents.
7.47
Arrived NZ from Australia for two week tour.  Carried 2 tons of wire and a complete house removal on a single trip between Paraparaumu to Woodbourne.
10.47
G-AIMC was given an overhaul by DAP, Parafield after the Australian and NZ tour, and before being demonstrated to Qantas Empire Airways in New Guinea.

After WWII the Australian Government allocated domestic services within the Territory of Papua and New Guinea to QEA. They were handed over to TAA in 1960.
23.10.47
Wrecked when rolled down sloping airfield at Wau, New Guinea. 

While operating a service on behalf of QEA, arrived at Wau and parked. 3 crew and a group of native labourers as passengers.  The brake cable broke, allowing the empty aircraft to roll backwards down the 1 in 12 gradient strip, carrying the occupants.
Wrecked at the lower end of the strip, but no injuries. Written off.
Total airframe time only 250 hours.


Note: the accident date has also been quoted as 21.10.47, 28.10.47, 23.11.47 but

Former RAAF engineer and pilot William Burns was employed by Overseas Corp (Australia) Ltd, the agents for Bristol. He was in the engineer in the crew which flew G-AIMC on the Australasian demonstration tour. He later recalled:
"We then flew up to New Guinea and made several flights into Wau, where the strip had a gradient slope of 1 in 12. It was standard practice for pilots to park aircraft sideways at the top.
Our pilots, the Bristol man Captain Elliott, and Overseas Corp's Geoff Nicholl, found that the fuselage distorted when the aircraft was parked sideways on the slope, which made it hard to open and close the nose doors.
So on 23 October, when we landed there with a load of native labourers, Elliot stopped straight ahead and parked the aeroplane on chocks and brakes. The single bowden cable which was the main brake line - a weakness in the whole braking system for an aircraft of that size to have only one cable - failed. The Bristol started to roll backwards down that steep Wau strip, fast. I leapt out and rolled out of the way of the oncoming undercarriage wheels, but Elliott and the native passengers rode her down to the bottom where she broke in two.
We dismantled the aeroplane, took out the engines and controls, instruments, radio gear, anything of value. "

Note: four or five different dates have been quoted for the Wau accident . I have accepted the date given by crew member Bill Burns' account, on the assumption he checked his log book.
18.12.47
Struck-off British Register
66
Wrecked aircraft still in situ, its fuselage used as living quarters by natives employed on a local coffee plantation. Faded paint, but name Merchant Venturer still readable on the nose.


                                  Melbourne-Essendon on arrival 23 May 1947 demonstration tour, Australian and NZ flags on the nose.                                        Photo: The Collection


Essendon. Locations visited on the demonstration tour listed on the nose door.     Photo by Charles D.Pratt


Early morning at Cairns, north Queensland, probably enroute to New Guinea.      The Collection p0850-0021


2.   ROYAL AUSTRALIAN AIR FORCE:  Four Freighter Mk.21

                        Bristol Freighter Mk.21E          c/n 12799                                                             A81-1, VH-SJG                

Built at Filton, Bristol by Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd.  Production Mk.21E
3.12.46
Registered G-AIMI: Ministry of Civil Aviation, London

No CofA issued

Royal Australian Air Force requested British Government supply 3 Bristol Freighters so that RAAF could provide its agreed transport obligation to support the British Woomera Rocket Range in South Australia. Later in 1952 a fourth Freighter was ordered.
24.1.49
Struck-off British Civil Register: transferred to Ministry of Supply for transfer to RAF
30.3.49
Taken on RAF charge as Bristol Freighter Mk.21E WB482
This was to facilitate the ferry flight to Australia by an RAF crew

Ferried to Australia
14.4.49
Arrived at RAAF Laverton, Vic on delivery
14.4.49
Taken on RAAF charge as A81-1.  Received by No.1 Aircraft Department, Laverton
14.4.49
Received Aircraft Research & Development Unit (ARDU), Laverton
23.5.49
Received No.34 Squadron, Mallala ex ARDU.
Later redesignated No.34 (Special Transport) Squadron, Mallala
7.49
Allotted to transport troops to NSW coal fields during a national coal miners strike

Operated a courier service for personnel and freight between Adelaide and Woomera.
Also flew in support of the Emu Field and Maralinga British atomic tests areas in South Australia

RAAF Form E/E88 Airframe Record Cards for A81-1 include a number of unscheduled landings without damage, due routine problems, mostly at Mallala and Woomera.
.55
RAAF re-organisation moved 34 Squadron from Mallala to Canberra. Womera support aircraft were transferred to newly-created units named No.1 Air Trials Unit at Woomera and No.2 Air Trials Unit at RAAF Edinburgh respectively.
Newly built Edinburgh, closer to Adelaide replaced Mallala which would be closed
6.10.55
A81-1, -3, -4 transferred to ATU, Detachment A
3.7.58
A81-1, -3, -4 transferred to No.2 ATU Edinburgh
1.63
noted at Bankstown stripped for major overhaul by Bristol Aviation Services
5.8.64
A81-1 stopped at RAAF Wagga en route Laverton-Richmond, carrying a radial engine
28.10.64
A81-1 visited RAAF Point Cook, flew personnel to Canberra 30.10.64
5.67
A81-1 withdrawn from service at No.2 ATU, Edinburgh
4.7.67
Struck-off RAAF charge. Status Card: "Bristols and associated spares have been declared for disposal by Base Squadron Edinburgh."
.68
The two airworthy RAAF Bristol Freighters, plus dismantled airframe A81-4 and all spares were sold through Department of Supply to: Jim Hazelton and Keith Dayal-Singh, Orange NSW
10.8.68
A81-1 and A81-3 noted at Edinburgh having engines run up after a year in storage.
A81-4 had been dismantled and its fuselage packed with spare parts and engines, stored off-base waiting to be moved by road to NSW
1.9.68
A81-1 and A81-3 noted at Orange NSW. RAAF insignia painted over except for "1" and "3" of their serials on the rear fuselage sides

Remained parked in the open at Orange while their re-sale was negotiated
.69
A81-1 and -3 plus spares sold to Jet Air Australia, Sydney
8.69
A81-1 and -3 ferried from Orange NSW to Brisbane-Archerfield Qld for overhaul for issue of civilian CofA on contract to Jet Air.
7.12.69
A81-1 and -3, both stripped for inspection, were blown into each by high winds while parked outside at Archerfield. Both received minor damage
2.2.70
Added to Civil Register VH-SJG: Jet Air Australia Ltd, Sydney

DCA assigned designation
Bristol 170 Mk.21-A1 to cover minor differences between the previous civil production Mk.21s registered in Australia

Both Bristols saw little use with Jet Air, just occasional charters. They remained all metallic without company name.
12.5.70
noted at Essendon,  first visit. All metallic
19.9.70
noted at Sydney Airport
27.11.70
Jet Air ceased airline operations.  The following day VH-SJG arrived Sydney Airport carrying Jet Air office furniture from their closed Brisbane Airport office.
12.70
All Jet Air Australia DC-3s and the two Bristols were lined up at Sydney Airport
c7.71
Both Bristols and the spare parts holding sold by liquidator to Air Express Ltd, Brisbane Qld
6.8.71
Arrived Essendon on delivery to Air Express after being parked at Sydney.
13.8.71
Register Change of Ownership: Air Express Ltd, Brisbane Qld
71-78
Based at Essendon, flying night freight for various freight forwarding companies, mostly to Tasmania and Bass Strait islands.
8.75-1.76
noted at Essendon, operated in all metal finish after all paintwork had been removed.
Repainted early 1976 in white and blue with Air Express titles.
2.76
Air Express Ltd and BBA Air Cargo Pty Ltd (formerly Brain & Brown Airfreighters) merged into a joint operation based Essendon, managed by Mr. William Astling.
Signet Insurance Group had gained financial control of both companies.
10.6.78
Air Express advertisement in Melbourne newspapers:
- VH-SJG offered for sale as the last airworthy Mk.21 in the world
- VH-TBB offered for sale u/s as a museum display
1.7.78
Last flight: King Island to Essendon. Retired.
Total airframe time 11,616 hours, 7,928 landings
7.78
Sold to Malcolm J. Long, Melbourne Vic
14.7.78
Ferried Essendon-RAAF Point Cook Vic where Malcolm Long then kept his aircraft collection.
Crew was Air Express Captain Len Veger and First Officer Barry Miller
79
Repainted at Point Cook in its previous RAAF scheme as "A81-1"
79
The Malcolm Long collection was forced to vacate RAAF Point Cook due to a change in RAAF policy towards civil aircraft on the station. Long made an agreement with Cliff Douglas, proprietor of  Chewing Gum Field Air Museum at Tallebudgera in the Gold Coast hinterland to house his collection.
14.1.80
Ferried Point Cook to Essendon, Cpt Len Veger, F/O Len Cleary. RAAF paint scheme.
16.1.80
Ferried Esendon-Coolangatta Qld. Arrived midday. Cpt Len Veger, F/O Rob Bennett
17.8.80
After dismantling at Coolangatta Airport, the fuselage was moved by road up the moutains to Tallebudgera. Wings followed soon after and aircraft reassembed for display outside at Chewing Gum Field Air Museum. 
By now the Long collection had been named Wings of Yesterday and the lighter aircraft were flown off a grass strip alongside the museum hangar
88
During 1985-86 Malcolm long moved most of his airworthy aircraft from Chewing Gum Field Air Museum to Wangaratta Victoria in a new arrangement with Air World.
The Bristol Freighter could not be made airworthy
.88
Donated to RAAF Museum, RAAF Point Cook Vic
2.8.88
A81-1 arrived by road at Point Cook from Queensland. It was dismantled at Chewing Gum Field Air Museum by RAAF personnel, the fuselage was towed backwards on a wheel chassis, and had been on the road for a week. The wings were carried on another truck

Reassembled at Point Cook and placed on outside display at RAAF Museum as "A81-1"

Current


A81-1 in its original all metal finish with RAAF.                                         The Collection p0850-0022


A81-1 at RAAF Edinburgh in February 1965, parked in an unusual high-netted compound.
Photo by John M. Smith courtesy SA Aviation Museum


After civil disposal, parked at Orange NSW in September 1968, with just the "1" of its serial on rear fuselage.
Photo by Geoff Goodall


A81-1 and A81-3 at Archerfield Qld in October 1969, where work on their civil conversions has commenced.
Photo by Roger McDonald


Jet Air Australia operated their two ex-RAAF Bristol Freighters in bare silver finish. Sydney November 1970.
Photo by Roger McDonald


VH-SJG in service with Air Express at Archerfield Qld in November 1972.               Photo by Ron Cuskelly


VH-SJG's final Air Express paint scheme. At Point Cook Vic in August 1978 after its sale to Malcolm Long.
Photo by Roger McDonald


Repainted in pre-kangaroo roundel RAAF scheme, at the Chewing Gum Field Air Museum in Queensland.
Photo by David Tanner


                                                                  The Melbourne "Sun newspaper 2 August 1988


On display at RAAF Museum at Point Cook near Melbourne.                              Photo by Dick Siudak


A81-1 displayed at night at the RAAF Museum in April 2006.                                    Photo by Phil Vabre


                        Bristol Freighter Mk.21E          c/n 12805                                                             A81-2     

Built at Filton, Bristol by Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd.  Production Mk.21E
3.12.46
Registered G-AIMO: Ministry of Civil Aviation, London

No CofA issued
49
Construction completed

Royal Australian Air Force requested British Government supply 3 Bristol Freighters so that RAAF could provide its agreed transport obligation to support the British Woomera Rocket Range in South Australia. Later in 1952 a fourth Freighter was ordered.
24.1.49
Transferred to Ministry of Supply on behalf of the RAF, for delivery to Australia
.49
Taken on RAF charge as Freighter Mk.21E WB483 to facilitate transfer to RAAF
14.4.49
Departed England on delivery flight to Australia, with A81-3
5.5.49
Arrived at RAAF Mallala SA on delivery from UK, along with A81-3
5.5.49
Taken on RAAF charge as A81-2
9.5.49
Allotted to No.34 (Communications) Squadron, Mallala
16.9.50
A81-2 flew at an airshow at Adelaide-Parafield and landed
24.11.53
Pilot Log book F/O Roy Scaife, 34 Squadron, who flew Bristol Freighter, Prince, Dakota and Avro 19 , also copilot on a RAF Avro York.

A81-2 routine courier service to Woomera:
Mallala-Parafield-Woomera-Parafield-Mallala, 21 passengers northbound, 31 passengers on return to Adelaide. 4 hrs flying total. Captain F/O Peel, Copilot F/O Scaife
25.11.53
Port wing broke away in flight, crashed destroyed near Mallala SA

While on an IFR training flight from Mallala by day in clear weather, the port mainplane parted from the fuselage. The aircraft crashed into a wheat field 2 miles from the RAAF Station.
The three crew were killed: Flt. Lt J. D. Entwhistle DFC, Flying Officers Leonard Murphy and Donald Shillinglaw.
The crash set the wheat field ablaze and the RAAF Mallala fire crews had to extinguish the the field fire to reach the crash site.  The port wing was found 1.5 miles away.
The undersides of both wings were still painted WB483.
11.53
RAAF grounded the remaining 3 Bristols.  Returned to service early the following year after inspections of the wing structure, with limitations placed on manoeuvres during training flights.

RAAF investigation determined that the wing was placed under severe load during a separate training flight on the morning of the accident 25.11.53.  The morning exercise included recovery from unusual attitudes using only a limited instrument panel. On two occasions the training captain placed the aircraft into a steep diving turn, recovery from which pulled high G force, to the extent a second pilot seated at the Navigator position blacked out.
28.10.55
Airframe Record Card: "Remains of A81-2 at present held by Aeronautical Research Laboratory, Melbourne. Due lack of storage space wreckage to be removed from ARL and stored at 1AD Laverton."



The subsequent investigations traced the problem to fatigue failure in the wing root ends and main spar structure.  Bristol produced a modification which was proven successful. Most British and European civil B170s were flown to Western Airways at Weston-super-Mare to have the extensive modification carried out at Bristol expense. Australian B170s had went to Bristol Aviation Services at Bankstown to have their wings removed and the modifications installed.




WB483 passing through Alice Springs NT in May 1949 on delivery from Britain to RAAF Mallala.
Photo by Phil McCulloch


A81-2 visiting Brisbane-Eagle Farm Airport circa 1950.                                   Photo by Henry W. Pryor


A81-2 at Parafield SA for an airshow in September 1950.                                 Photo by John M. Smith



                        Bristol Freighter Mk.21E          c/n 12807                                                           A81-3, VH-SJQ    

Built at Filton, Bristol by Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd.  Production Mk.21
3.12.46
Registered G-AIMR: Ministry of Civil Aviation, London

No CofA issued

Royal Australian Air Force requested British Government supply 3 Bristol Freighters so that RAAF could provide its agreed transport obligation to support the British Woomera Rocket Range in South Australia. Later in 1952 a fourth Freighter was ordered.
24.1.49
Transferred to Ministry of Supply on behalf of the RAF, for delivery to Australia
1.49
Taken on RAF charge as Freighter Mk.21E WB484 to facilitate transfer to RAAF
14.4.49
Departed England on delivery flight to Australia, with A81-2
5.5.49
Arrived at RAAF Mallala SA on delivery from UK, along with A81-2
5.5.49
Taken on RAAF charge as A81-2
9.5.49
Allotted to No.34 (Communications) Squadron, Mallala
.55
RAAF re-organisation moved 34 Squadron from Mallala to Canberra. Womera support aircraft were transferred to newly-created units named No.1 Air Trials Unit at Woomera and No.2 Air Trials Unit at RAAF Edinburgh respectively.
Newly built Edinburgh, closer to Adelaide replaced Mallala which would be closed
6.10.55
A81-1, -3, -4 transferred to ATU, Detachment A
.57
Repainted from natural metal finish to white top, blue cheat line and red engine nacelles
16.4.58
A81-1, -3, -4 transferred to No.2 ATU Edinburgh
24.5.64
A81-3 visited Adelaide Airport on a medivac from Woomera. White, blue, metallic with large dayglo orange areas
2.65
noted at RAAF Edinburgh. Also 3.4.65, 9.66
4.9.65
The control surfaces of A81-3 and Dakota KJ881were damaged by a sudden wind storm, while parked at RAAF Edinburgh
5.67
A81-3 withdrawn from service at No.2 ATU, Edinburgh
4.7.67
Struck-off RAAF charge. Status Card: "Bristols and associated spares have been declared for disposal by Base Squadron Edinburgh."
.68
The two airworthy RAAF Bristol Freighters, plus dismantled airframe A81-4 and all spares were sold through Department of Supply to: Jim Hazelton and Keith Dayal-Singh, Orange NSW
10.8.68
A81-1 and A81-3 noted at Edinburgh having engines run up after a year in storage.
A81-4 had been dismantled and its fuselage packed with spare parts and engines, stored off-base waiting to be moved by road to NSW
1.9.68
A81-1 and A81-3 noted at Orange NSW. RAAF insignia painted over except for "1" and "3" of their serials on the rear fuselage sides

Remained parked in the open at Orange while their re-sale was negotiated
.69
A81-1 and -3 plus spares sold to Jet Air Australia, Sydney
8.69
A81-1 and -3 ferried from Orange NSW to Brisbane-Archerfield Qld for overhaul for issue of civilian CofA on contract to Jet Air.
7.12.69
A81-1 and -3, both stripped for inspection, were blown into each by high winds while parked outside at Archerfield. Both received minor damage
7.3.70
VH-SJQ ferried Archerfield-Sydney Airport on delivery to Jet Air. All metallic finish
19.3.70
Added to Civil Register as a VH-SJQ: Jet Air Australia Ltd, Sydney

DCA assigned designation Bristol 170 Mk.21-A1 to cover minor differences between the previous civil production Mk.21s registered in Australia
10.4.70 first visit to Essendon, operating a freight charter for TAA. Returned again 7.5.70
19.7.70
noted at Sydney-Bankstown.
8.70
VH-SJQ commenced flying a 4 days a week charter from Cairns to Port Moresby carrying supplies of fresh milk produced by Milanda Milk near Cairns. Cars carried as back-loading.
The service was dropped at the end of August due poor economics
19.9.70
VH-SJG & VH-SJQ noted at Bankstown
27.11.70
Jet Air Australia ceased operations. The next day VH-SJQ flew the last Jet Air departure, carrying the office furniture from their closed Essendon Airport office to Sydney Airport.
12.70
All Jet Air Australia DC-3s and the two Bristols were lined up at Sydney Airport
c7.71
Both Bristols and the spare parts holding sold by liquidator to Air Express Ltd, Brisbane Qld
5.8.71
Arrived Essendon on delivery to Air Express after being parked at Sydney.
16.8.71
Register Change of Ownership: Air Express Ltd, Brisbane Qld

Based at Essendon Airport, Melbourne where Air Express had re-established a base for nightly cargo services to Tasmania and Bass Strait islands
11.71
VH-SJQ based Essendon now painted in Comet Overnight Express titles
10.5.75
Ditched and sank in Bass Strait,  17 miles south of Wonthaggi, Victoria

While enroute Essendon to Launceston at night, the crew were forced to shut down the port engine. Unable to maintain altitude, they turned back for Essendon but were unable to reach the Victorian coast. Ditched in Bass Strait at 2.20am, 3 miles south of Cape Patterson. Captain Les Barnes and F/O Peter Killip died.

An extensive aerial search located floating wreckage, then the Royal Australian Navy found the main bulk of the aircraft 6 days later at 25 fathoms.

Total airframe time (prior to last flight): 9,535 hrs 20 mins. 6,790 landings


A81-3 at Adelaide Airport in May 1964 on a medivac from Woomera.                   Photo by Geoff Goodall


A81-3 on its usual parking bay at RAAF Edinburgh SA in February 1965.           Photo by Geoff Goodall


Also at Edinburgh in February 1965, this colour view shows the areas of orange dayglo.
Photo John M. Smith courtesy SA Aviation Museum


After RAAF disposal, parked at Orange NSW in September 1968, with just the "3" of its serial number
Photo by Geoff Goodall


A81-4 became VH-SJQ, seen at Archerfield 14 December 1969 with wingtip damaged during a windstorm
Photo by Roger McDonald


Now VH-SJQ in service with Jet Air Australia, seen at Bankstown in September 1970.
Note the cabin windows have been covered.    Photo: The Collection p0850-0051a


VH-SJQ at Brisbane-Eagle Farm in May 1971, now with Air Express.               Photo by Roger McDonald


Essendon April 1972, with Comet Overnight Transport markings.                     Photo by Roger McDonald


VH-SJQ at Essendon in October 1974 with Air Express, flying night freight to Tasmania
Photo: The Collection p0850-0156


                       Bristol Wayfarer Mk.IIA, to Freighter Mk.21          c/n 12746                                          A81-4  
11.46
Built at Filton, Bristol by Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd.  Production Wayfarer Mk.IIA
8.8.46
Registered G-AHJN: Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd, Filton, Bristol
26.11.46
CofA issued
12.46
Sold to Bharat Airways, Calcutta, India
5.12.46
Delivered to Bharat Airways
10.47
Registered VT-CGX Bharat Airways, Calcutta, India

Operated on the company's Calcutta-Rangoon-Bangkok service
7.50
Returned to Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd, Bristol
.50
Allocated by Bristol to a RAAF order for an additional Freighter Mk.21E
.50
Modified at Filton to Freighter Mk.21E
10.50
Test flights at Filton with Class B markings G-18-15
8.51
Sold to Ministry of Supply on behalf of the RAF, for delivery to Australia.
Allotted serial WW378  to facilitate transfer to RAAF
16.8.51
Taken on RAAF charge as Freighter Mk.21E A81-4
28.8.51
Departed Filton on delivery flight to Australia, carrying the RAAF's first Bristol Sycamore helicopter WV695 (A91-1) as cargo.
10.9.51
Received at 34 Squadron, Mallala on delivery from UK
9.54
A81-4 noted at RAAF Mallala, "WW378" remained painted under the wings
31.8.55
Forced landing at Nhill Aerodrome Vic due port engine problem. Field repair.
.55
RAAF re-organisation moved 34 Squadron from Mallala to Canberra. Womera support aircraft were transferred to newly-created units named No.1 Air Trials Unit at Woomera and No.2 Air Trials Unit at RAAF Edinburgh respectively.
Newly built Edinburgh, closer to Adelaide replaced Mallala which would be closed
5.10.55
A81-1, -3, -4 transferred to ATU, Detachment A
27.7.58
A81-1, -3, -4 transferred to No.2 ATU Edinburgh
12.9.62
A81-4 noted at Edinburgh. Also 23.11.63
27.2.64
visited Adelaide Airport
23.3.64
visited Essendon Airport
c64
Airframe overstressed by a windstorm while parked at Woomera SA

Dismantled airframe moved by road transport from Woomera to RAAF Edinburgh.
11.9.66
noted at Edinburgh, in hangar, dismantled. New tail section being fitted.
Reported that one of the mainplanes was warped and attempts to fit a replacement wing failed
4.7.67
Struck-off RAAF charge. Status Card: "Bristols and associated spares have been declared for disposal by Base Squadron Edinburgh."
.68
The two airworthy RAAF Bristol Freighters, plus dismantled airframe A81-4 and all spares were sold through Department of Supply to: Jim Hazelton and Keith Dayal-Singh, Orange NSW
10.8.68
A81-3's fuselage had been moved off base and was on its belly on land just outside the airfield boundary near the Elizabeth City Council Rubbish Tip. The interior had been packed with spare parts. Unmoved 31.8.68. Gone by 7.69

Assumed the fuselage packed with spare parts was moved by road to NSW to the purchasers.
However some fuselage sections of A81-4 were found in Simsmetal yard in the Adelaide suburb of Wingfield in July 1979, suggesting that the spares were moved separately and the fuselage sold in Adelaide as scrap metal.


A81-4 visiting Mount Gambier SA in September 1960, prior to the dayglo orange paint being applied.
Photo by John M. Smith via SA Aviation Museum


A81-4 at Edinburgh in October 1962.                                                                        Photo by Clive A. Lynch


A81-4 at Edinburgh in September 1966 with repairs to rear fuselage and tail after the wind damage at Woomera
Photo by Arthur Perkins via Nigel Daw collection


The fuselage of A81-4 near RAAF Edinburgh in August 1968, filled with Bristol spare parts.
Photo by Geoff Goodall


3. AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL AIRWAYS: three Freighter Mk.21E

                     Bristol Freighter Mk.21E          c/n 12755           Pokana                                                    VH-INJ

Built at Filton, Bristol by Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd.  Production Mk.21E
26.8.46
Registered G-AICL: Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd, Bristol
48
Construction completed
11.11.48
British CofA issued
23.11.48
Leased by Australian Bristol agents Overseas Corporation (Australia) Ltd, Melbourne to Australian National Airways Pty Ltd, Melbourne
It was a 3 month evaluation lease, prior to an expected firm order from ANA
11.48
G-AICL departed Filton, Bristol on ferry flight to Melbourne, flown by ANA Captains
Fred T. Patterson, R. Dennis, H. Child and G. Herbert, with navigator J. Ensor. The aircraft was painted in ANA markings but retained the British registration
7.12.48
Arrived at Melbourne-Essendon
12.48
Entered ANA service on the Melbourne-Tasmania routes, to help with the pre-Christmas peak
3.49
ANA announced it was purchasing G-AICL, plus ordering two more Freighter Mk.21s for delivery this year
29.3.49
Struck-off British Register as sold to Australia
29.3.49
Australian Registration Application: Australian National Airways Pty Ltd, Melbourne Vic

Inspection at Essendon for Australian type certification
6.4.49
Added to Australian Register VH-INJ: ANA name Pokana  (Aboriginal for Heron)
4.49
Repainted as VH-INJ at Essendon

DCA approved VH-INJ to be operated by ANA on its British CofA during the Australian type certification process
.49
Forced landing en route Tasmania due engine trouble, at the new Melbourne airport Moorabbin which was then under construction. It was the first aircraft to use the new airfield
23.11.49
Australian CofA issued
7.5.51
Deployed to Wyndham WA until September for the 1951 season of the  Air Beef Scheme,  along with VH-INL. Carried freshly killed and frozen beef from Glenroy Station to the Wyndham meat works.  See introduction above.
5.52
VH-INJ & INL returned to Wydham until September for the 1952 season of Air Beef.
5.53
All three ANA Bristols were based at Wyndham for periods during the 1953 Air Beef season.
MMA DC-3s took over for the 1954 and following seasons
4.10.57
Change of owner's name: Ansett-ANA, Melbourne Vic
8.59
VH-INJ was by now the only former ANA Bristol still in service. That month it had a major overhaul at Essendon and repaint in Ansett-ANA colour scheme. The other two Bristols were retired at Essendon still in ANA markings.
26.6.61
Last flight Hobart-Essendon. Withdrawn from service at Essendon.
Total airframe time: 26,000 hours which was the highest hours of any Bristol Freighter in the World at that time.
7.61
VH-INJ, INK & INL noted at Essendon, each with outer wings, tailplane and engines removed, parked on their wheels in northern parking area.
9.61
VH-INJ, INK & INL broken-up at Essendon for scrap


This early ANA publicity picture shows VH-INJ looking very smart in shiny metal finish


At Essendon in the early 1950s, with ANA DC-3s behind.                                 Photo by Barrie Colledge


Adelaide in 1960 after the repaint into Ansett-ANA colour scheme.                         Photo by John Hillier



                         Bristol Wayfarer Mk.IIA, to Freighter Mk.1, Mk.21E   c/n 12735          Kiopana                  VH-INK
46
Built at Filton, Bristol by Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd.  Production Wayfarer Mk.IIA
30.5.46
Registered G-AHJC: Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd, Bristol
6.7.46
CofA issued
7.7.46
Departed Filton for Denmark to demonstrate to the airline DDL, flown byBristol  test pilot Bill Pegg with Captain Paul Jewson of BEA as copilot, carrying a Bristol sales team
8.7.46
Returned to Filton from Denmark
8.7.46
Commenced a lease to British American Air Services Ltd, White Waltham

BAAS operated DH.89 Rapide, HP Halifax, Dakota and Bristol 170 types on a range of charter work to Europe, Scandinavia and Ireland, and later participated in the Berlin Air Lift
7.46
Returned to Bristol by BAAS in late July. Retained by Bristol as a demonstrator
1.8.46
Departed Filton for Paris on the first leg of a sales tour to Zurich, Rome, Athens, Crete and Salonika.  Captains Dick Northway (Bristol), Leonard Thornhill (BEA), with Bristol Sales Director Captain Bartlett.  Returned to Filton 13.8.46
26.8.46
Local flying Filton by Bill Pegg to endorse production test pilot Flt Lt Christopher Birks
15.9.46
Flew demonstrations at the 1946 SBAC airshow at Radlett
26.9.46
Handling trial flights by Christopher Birks
14.11.46
Departed Filton for demonstration tour to India
16.12.46
Handling trial flights by Christopher Birks. And again 17.12.46, 26.2.47
47
Demonstration tour of Spain, North Africa and Middle East, logging 112 hours flying.
Carried loads in Middle East in cooperation with Airwork Ltd, who provided copilot R. Turton and radio operator R. Church.
Airwork Ltd's Chief pilot Captain D. A.Wolfe organised demonstrations to Iraq Petroleum and Anglo-Iranian Oil Co, the latter hiring the aircraft for a week.
6.47
Returned to Filton after Middle East tour
24.6.47
G-AHJC noted at London-Croydon with blue paintwork but no titles
9.47
Converted to Freighter Mk.1.  CofA renewed 13.11.47 as a Freighter Mk.1
11.47
Commenced engine development flight trials until May 1948
1.48
Operated for Anglo-Iranian Oil Co Ltd at Abadan
5.48
Demonstration tour to France and India
16.5.48
noted visiting Blackbushe.  And again 9.9.48
18.9.48
Commenced lease to Silver City Airways Ltd, Langley for use on the Berlin Airlift.
G-AHJC operated a total of 38 sorties, carrying 141 tons of cargo
24.11.48
Returned to Bristol by Silver City Airways.

Selected to fill an order from Australian National Airways for a second-hand Mk.21E
23.4.49
Sold to Australian National Airways Pty Ltd, Melbourne Vic
23.6.49
Struck-off British Register as withdrawn from service
7.49
Commenced overhaul at Filton and conversion to Freighter Mk.21E
8.9.49
Australian CofA issued
8.9.49
Departed Filton on delivery flight to Australia, flown by ANA Captains Fred Patterson and R.M.Russell
23.9.49
Added to Register as Freighter Mk.21E VH-INK: Australian National Airways Pty Ltd, Melbourne Vic

ANA name Kiopana  (Aboriginal for Depart Quickly)
6.7.50
Australian CofA issued
5.53
All three ANA Bristols were based at Wyndham WA for periods during the 1953 Air Beef Scheme season from May-September. See introduction above.
4.10.57
Change of owner's name: Ansett-ANA, Melbourne Vic
8.59
VH-INK & -INL noted at Essendon, both retired from service in northern parking area.
VH-INK total airframe time 18,044 hours and 9,036 landings
3.10.60
Struck-off Register
7.61
VH-INJ, INK & INL noted at Essendon, each with outer wings, tailplane and engines removed, parked on their wheels in northern parking area.
28.9.61
VH-INJ, INK & INL broken-up at Essendon for scrap


Dave Freeman took this Box Brownie camera shot of G-AHJC at Blackbushe on 16 May 1948
Previously a Wayfarer, by then converted to a Freighter Mk.1 as evidenced by the nose doors.


"Kiopana" departs the ANA freight ramp at Essendon in September 1957.         The Collection p0850-0195


                         Bristol Freighter Mk.IA, to Mk.21E          c/n 12761         Mannana                                     VH-INL

Built at Filton, Bristol by Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd. 
Production Freighter Mk. 1A "Mixed Freighter"
26.8.46
Registered G-AICR: Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd, Bristol
2.47
Construction completed
28.2.47
First test flight by Bristol pilot Captain Christopher Birks
4.3.47
British CofA issued
3.47
Sold to Shell (Ecuador) Ltd, along with G-AICS.
Both were modified with extra low-pressure tyres for landing on rough strips and fitted for supply dropping. Both were based at Shell Mara, the Shell Company's high altitude oilfield in Ecuador, operating in extreme climatic conditions
13.3.47
Departed Filton on delivery flight to South America via South Atlantic route
4.47
Registered in Ecuador as HC-SBM: Shell (Ecuador) Ltd, Shell Mara, Ecuador
2.49
Shell Ecuador project was terminated because of damage from an earthquake
26.2.49
HC-SBM noted at Blackbushe
9.3.49
arrived at Filton on delivery to Bristol Aeroplane Co in exchange for Freighter G-AHJG

Selected to fill an order from Australian National Airways for a second-hand Mk.21E 

Rebuilt at Filton and modified to Freighter Mk.21E. Completed in ANA markings as VH-INL
14.10.49
ANA quoted delivery date
16.11.49
Added to Register as Freighter Mk.21E VH-INL: Australian National Airways Pty Ltd,
Melbourne Vic

ANA name Mannana  (Aboriginal for Above The Earth)

Departed Filton on delivery flight to Australia, ANA Captains R.Dennis and Dave T. Bull, with navigator J. B. Ensor and engineer M. Pirie
21.3.50
Swung off taxiway and struck taxiway lights at Launceston, Tasmania, damaging the underside of the fuselage. Captain Ian Rushworth
26.3.50
Ferried Launceston-Essendon after temporary repairs
5.50
Deployed to Wyndham WA for the 1950 season of the Air Beef Scheme, carrying freshly killed and frozen beef from Glenroy Station to the meatworks at Wyndham. Up to three return trips each day between Wyndham and Glenroy. Captains J. Peter Davis and Max Holyman
See introduction above.

Between May-September 1950 on Air Beef, VH-INL logged 588 flying hours
7.5.51
Returned to Wyndham, with VH-INJ, until September for the 1951 Air Beef Scheme season
5.52
Returned to Wyndham, again with VH-INJ until September, for the 1952 Air Beef season.
VH-INK flew 724 hours during the 1952 season.
6.9.52
Departed "Glenroy" Station, Kimberleys WA on return to Melbourne at the end of the 1952 Air Beef season. Refuelled at Tennant Creek, Cloncurry, Longreach, Charleville, Wagga,
reaching Essendon 8.9.52
5.53
All three ANA Bristols were based at Wyndham for periods during the 1953 Air Beef season.
MMA DC-3s took over for the 1954 and following seasons.
4.10.57
Change of owner's name: Ansett-ANA, Melbourne Vic
58
Withdrawn from service at Essendon. Total airframe time 16,154 hours, 8,081 landings
8.59
VH-INK & INL noted at Essendon, both retired, parked at the northern aircraft parking area.
Reported that parts of VH-INL had been removed to be used by Ansett-ANA in their overhaul of Freighter VH-INJ at this time
3.10.60
Struck-off Civil Register.
7.61
VH-INJ, INK & INL noted at Essendon, each with outer wings, tailplane and engines removed, parked on their wheels in northern parking area.
9.61
VH-INJ, INK & INL broken-up at Essendon for scrap


Dave Freeman and his Box Brownie caught HC-SBM at Blackbushe in 1949, back from lease in Ecuador


Looking like new at Filton later in 1949, after overhaul by Bristols and modification to Freighter Mk.21E
Photo: Barrie Colledge collection


VH-INL with port propeller feathered, parked on the flat surface of Lake Peddar Tasmania circa 1957.
Photo: The Collection p0850-0024


Final days. VH-INL stripped of engines and tail, at Essendon in January 1961, waiting for the scrap man.
Photo: The Collection p0850-0016


4. AERIAL AGRICULTURE PTY LYD,  SYDNEY: one Freighter Mk.21 for crop dusting

                        Bristol Freighter Mk.21               c/n 12774                                                         VH-AAH
48
Built at Filton, Bristol by Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd. 
Laid down as a Wayfarer Mk.II, but completed as a Freighter Mk.21
11.10.46
Registered G-AIFN: Ministry of Civil Aviation, London.
48
Completed construction as a Freighter Mk.21
6.7.48
British CofA issued
7.48
Demonstration tour to Italy, named Giovanni Caboto
17.7.48
noted at Filton, on return from Italy
25.8.48
Delivered to Compagnie Air Transport, France
8.48
Registered F-BENC: C'ia Air Transport,
operated by Societe Indochinoise de Transports Aeriens (SITA), Saigon, French Indo China
27.8.48
French CofA issued in name of SITA.

Based Saigon, maintained by Air France
8.5.51
Sold to Air France, based Saigon
27.8.51
F-BENC noted at Saigon, Air France
5.10.51
Ownership changed to Air France, Paris-Le Bourget
6.10.51
Sold to Air Viet Nam, Saigon
10.51
Registered F-VNAK
3.1.52
CofA issued
1.1.53
Damaged at Xieng Khouang. Repaired and returned to service by 4.53
26.9.54
Damaged at Vientiane, Laos.

Ferried to Hong Kong for full repair and overhaul between 11.54 to 9.55
31.10.56
Retired at Saigon and advertised for sale

Tom Watson, founder of Aerial Agriculture Pty Ltd at Bankstown, Sydney was  replacing his large fleet of Tiger Moths with the first DHC-2 Beavers imported to Australia for agricultural work. After a visit to USA where he saw a Boeing B-17 spreading in New Mexico, Watson was convinced there was a place for heavy aircraft to spread superphosphate on Australian farms.

After considering the aircraft types available, he settled on the Bristol Freighter. Among the reasons was the fact that the type was in civil use in Australia, which would reduce complications with DCA certification of the modifications needed to equip the aircraft for cropdusting. With none available to purchase in Australia, he acquired a Freighter Mk.21 from Air Vietnam.

Among his pilots was Lionel Van Praag, a widely-known experienced pilot who had extensive experience flying transport aircraft in RAAF and for postwar civil operators. Lionel was placed in charge of the Bristol Freighter experiment, which could onlky be economic if commercial freight charter work was found when the Bristol was not needed for cropdusting.
31.5.57
Purchased from Air Viet Nam by Aerial Agriculture Pty Ltd, Sydney
2.7.57
Australian Registration Application: Aerial Agriculture Pty Ltd, Bankstown Airport, Sydney
7.57
F-VNAK ferried from Saigon to Sydney
8.8.57
Testflown Bankstown after certification inspection by Bristol Aviation Services.
8.8.57
Australian CofA issued
8.8.57
Added to Register as Freighter Mk.21 VH-AAH

Negotiations began with DCA reqarding certification of agricultural modifications designed by aeronautical engineer Luigi Pellarini, which included a removable steel 6 ton capacity hopper , structural reinforcement for holes cut in the fuselage top and bottom to allow loading and discharge of superphosphate fertilizer.  Modifications were approved, with an increased agricultural category Maximum All Up Weight of 19,068 Kg against normal MAUW18,160 Kg
58
Commenced agricultural flying early 1958, Van Praag was always the pilot in command, with a copilot/radio operator.  First base Cootamundra aerodrome NSW, where dusting operations were considered successful. Later dusted Glenrock Station near Scone, which had previously required the fertilizer to be moved in 80 km by truck for spreading by several Tiger Moths
.59
Retired from agricultural flying. A contributing factor was wear on tyres and the cost of the  replacement tyres specially made in England which could not be retreaded.
59
Van Praag operated a series of charters carrying live sheep from Tasmania to the mainland. Removable double-deck pens were constructed, which could carry 120 sheep per trip.
4.59
Van Praag in VH-AAH made 4 trips from Tasmania to Corowa NSW delivering live sheep to a local farmer. After the final delivery, Van Praag took the farmer's wife and a group of local school boys who had ridden their bikes to the Corowa airport, for a flight over her property. One of those boys, Terry Cornelius remembered in 2005:
   "All those who wanted to go were herded up the ramp and told to find a spot near the windows, crouch down and hold on to the rail. We scrambled in the straw and the pens, sheep dung and smell and took our positions. When Lionel Van Praag was satisfied that everyone was happy he swung the big doors shut. Before long we were off on a short scenic flight over Corowa and along the River Murray ten miles to Quat Quatta Station.
    When we were back on the ground, the crowd dispersed with a roar from the engines and a wave from the pilot, the Bristol was a diminishing dot in the sky, leaving us with a lifetime memory."

29.8.59
Leased to Ansett-ANA for several months while their remaining Bristol Freighter VH-INJ was given a major overhaul in Melbourne
59-60
Several advertisements for sale by Aerial Agriculture Pty Ltd: "equipped with quickly removable hopper for ag work, This aircraft has proven to be highly successful on this work."
60
Van Praag operated a series of trips to carry live sheep from Tasmania to the mainland. Removable double-deck pens were constructed, which could carry 120 sheep per trip.
60
Van Praag flew VH-AAH from Sydney to Giles WA on charter to Adastra Aerial Surveys, carrying a replacement P&W R-1830 engine and Adastra personnel to install it in their grounded DC-3 VH-AGU
8.60
Leased to Ansett-ANA for several months
10.2.61
Papuan Air Transport (Patair) announced in Pacific Islands Monthly that when its DC-3 VH-PAT left for Sydney soon for overhaul by Bristol Aviation Services, Patair would maintain passenger services with their Piaggio P166s and a chartered Piper Aztec VH-WEJ. Freight would be handled by a Bristol Freighter which has been chartered while the DC-3 is away.
2.61
VH-AAH was painted with "Patair"titles during an inspection by Bristol Aviation Services at Bankstown
4.61
Patair cancelled the lease due to uncertainty when DC-3 VH-PAT crashed in New Guinea 8.4.61 prior to being ferried to Sydney for its overhaul.
4.61
Change of ownership: Pacific Aviation Pty Ltd, Brisbane Qld
4.61
VH-AAH continued flying most of the freight contacts previously held by Aerial Agriculture, and was often flown by Lionel Van Praag.  Most regular run was Sydney-Tasmania
26.9.61
noted at Hobart Tas, being loaded with fish for the mainland
10.11.61
noted at Mascot, all metallic, no titles
61
A regular contract was Sydney-Tasmania delivering boxes of Kellogs Cornflakes breakfast serial
18.12.61
Crashed destroyed during attempted forced landing at Albion Park aerodrome, Wollongong NSW

Departed Sydney Airport at 9.48am for a flight to Launceston with a load fo foodstuffs, mostly Kellogs Cornflakes.  Captain Lionel Van Praag, First Officer R. Garrick, with a Second Pilot Les Jaycock plus a passenger.

When near Wollongong the Captain conducted an engine failure training exercise on the starboard engine. On completion, the feathered starboard propeller could not be returned to normal pitch and altitude was lost on one engine.
Van Praag turned back to Sydney but due to continuing loss of altitude, diverted to Albion Park aerodrome. Made a forced landing in a clearing short of the airfield but struck trees and crashed at 10.15am.  A wing was torn off and the fuselage wrecked by impact.
The three crew were unhurt but the passenger in the freight cabin sustained serious injuries.

Airframe total time 10,500 hours



In his autobiography Roll Back The Skies, wandering airline pilot Vern Polly candidly describes his brief time with Pacific Aviation. His previous 6 months had been on TEAL L.188 Electras:
     "Soon after this a freight company was formed in Brisbane with a Bristol Freighter as its aircraft and Lionel Van Praag as Chief Pilot. During the war he was awarded the George Cross when his RAAF DC-2 was shot down by Zeros during the evacuation of Timor. He force landed in the ocean and saved his copilot Webster by swimming with him three miles to land. He was a world champion speedway motor cyclist on the old cinders tracks.
      John Warner and I got jobs as copilots in this fledgling freight company. So for six months I flew that monster registered VH-AAH from Sydney to different parts of Tasmania, taking cornflakes down and bringing back either crayfish or sheep, and into central NSW and southern Queensland picking up live sheep, or in some cases frozen meat for Sydney. Coping with the combination of Van Praag and the Bristol made this an unhappy period.
      We did a couple of flights to Giles, a meteorological station in central Australia. Flying at an altitude of a few hundred feet westward from Oodnadatta I saw herds of thousands of wild horses and big red kangaroos.  After taking more than enough from Van Praag, I walked off the job in September 1961 and bought a ticket to London."


F-VNAK after arrival at Bankstown from Vietnam in 1957.                       Photo: Ben Dannecker collection


Now registered VH-AAH with Aerial Agriculture, seen at Cootamundra NSW in 1958, having its 6 ton hopper
loaded with
superphosphate through the roof loading hatch.                          Photo by Ben Dannecker        

   



                        VH-AAH while in freight service with Aerial Agriculture Pty Ltd.                  Photo: Ben Dannecker collection


                          An excellent study of VH-AAH at Bankstown                                          Photo: The Collection p0850-0391


VH-AAH with the short-lived Parair titles at Bankstown in February 1961.        Geoff Goodall collection


Pacific Aviation operated VH-AAH in bare metal finish. Pictured at Hobart, Tasmania in 1961
Geoff Goodall collection



5. PAKISTAN AIR FORCE FREIGHTER Mk.31 DISPOSALS DURING 1961:

-  Ansett-ANA:       VH-BFA, VH-BFB + spare
-  TAA:                   VH-TBA, VH-TBB + two spare
-  Pacific Aviation:  VH-ADL



                      Bristol Freighter Mk.31M, Mk.31              c/n 13179                                                        VH-BFA
54
Built at Filton, Bristol by Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd. 
Built to Pakistan Air Force order for 38 Freighter Mk.31Ms, which were delivered between
December 1953 to June 1955
14.4.54
Construction completed

Testflown with Class B registration G-18-171
29.6.54
Hand-over by Bristol to Royal Pakistan Air Force as S4416.
Name changed in 1956 to Pakistan Air Force
6.54
Delivered to Pakistan by Pakistan Air Force crew, in company with S4411 and S4417

Operated by Air Transport Command 6 Squadron based at Peshawar
60
Included in a group of retired Pakistan Air Force Freighter Mk.31Ms offered for civil disposal
.61
Sold to Ansett-ANA, Melbourne Vic
.61
Registered AP-AMN for the delivery flight from Pakistan to Australia
29.7.61
AP-AMN arrived at Essendon in company with AP-AMM (ex S4412), both in Pakistan Air Force camouflage
8.61
Overhaul at Essendon by Ansett-ANA for Australian civil certification
9.61
Test flights at Essendon, painted in Ansett-ANA colours as VH-BFA
10.10.61
Added to Register as Freighter Mk.31 VH-BFA: Ansett-ANA, Melbourne Vic
10.10.61
Australian CofA issued
21.10.61
Entered service with Ansett-ANA, first service Sydney-Melbourne-Hobart carrying two elephants, as a press promotion to show the freight capacity of the new type.
62-64
VH-BFA operated Adelaide-Melbourne-Sydney-Melbourne-Adelaide each week night
23.4.63
Flew a charter from Melbourne to Hamilton Vic carrying race horses for R.M.Ansett
25.3.64
Last time noted at Adelaide, replaced by Ansett-ANA DC-4 Cargomasters on the nightly run
5.64
noted at Essendon in Ansett-ANA maintenance hangar, repainted in Ansett-MAL markings
22.5.64
Change of ownership: Ansett-M.A.L., Lae, Papua New Guinea
26.5.64
Departed Essendon on delivery to New Guinea, carrying a spare Bristol Hercules engine
5.6.65
noted at Bankstown undergoing overhaul by Hawker De Havilland, which had taken over the former Bristol Aviation Services operation and hangar
11.66
Ansett-MAL and TAA announced they were forced to retire their Bristol Freighters in Papua New Guinea because of low levels of air freight resulting from increased road freight on improved roads, particularly the recently-completed new coastal road to Goroka
1.67
VH-BFA & VH-BFB retired for several weeks, but later in January both returned to service based at Madang.
4.67
Both finally retired at Goroka. Reported locally that the reason was both were reaching their maximum landings allowable prior to major overhaul
6.67
Both noted at Goroka: retired with flaps, ailerons and rudders removed
30.6.67
Change of ownership: Ansett-ANA, Melbourne Vic
10.67
VH-BFA & VH-BFB sold to Straits Air Freight Express, New Zealand, an established Bristol Feighter operator carrying cargo and cars between the NZ North and South Islands. The company was now trading as SAFE-Air Ltd, based at Woodbourne NZ.
The two Ansett-MAL Bristols were purchased for spare parts only.
30.10.67
Struck-off Australian Register
3.11.67
Registered ZK-CVK: SAFE-Air Ltd, Woodbourne NZ
16.11.67
ZK-CVK arrived at Brisbane Airport from New Guinea on ferry flight to NZ. 
Ansett-MAL paint scheme with titles.
Flown by SAFE Air Captains V. L. A. Powell and G. T. Stuart
21.11.67
Arrived at Woodbourne Airport, Blenheim NZ
3.68
ZK-CVK noted at Woodbourne, propellers removed

Stripped of required components
17.10.69
noted at Woodbourne, engineless and missing tailplane, still basic Ansett-MAL paint scheme
5.4.72
Struck-off NZ Register
23.11.75
noted at Woodbourne, standing on its undercarriage in high grass, engineless and no tailplane, very faded Ansett-MAL paint scheme
81
Broken-up for scrap at Woodbourne NZ


VH-BFA at Essendon soon after it entered service with Ansett-ANA.                        Maurice Austin collection


Adelaide January 1962, unloading the daily Ansett-ANA cargo service from Melbourne. 
Photo by Geoff Goodall




Essendon May 1964, about to be delivered to New Guinea to Ansett-MAL.             Photo by Geoff Goodall


Sold to SAFE Air as ZK-CVK, seen at Brisbane Airport 16 November 1967 during its delivery flight.
Photo by David Thollar


The two Ansett-MAL Bristols stayed together after being stripped for parts by SAFE Air at Woodbourne NZ.
Here they are in November 1975, ZK-CVK in the foreground, both still in faded Ansett-MAL paintwork. 
Photo by Nigel Daw



                       Bristol Freighter Mk.31M              c/n 13192                                                       VH-BFB
54-55
Built at Filton, Bristol by Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd. 
Built to Pakistan Air Force order for 38 Freighter Mk.31Ms, which were delivered between
December 1953 to June 1955
28.1.55
Construction completed

Testflown with Class B registration G-18-184
29.6.55
Hand-over by Bristol to Pakistan Air Force as S4436
Name changed in 1956 to Pakistan Air Force
7.55
Delivered to Pakistan by Pakistan Air Force crew, in company with S4438

Operated by Air Transport Command 6 Squadron based at Peshawar
60
Retired at Drigh Road Air Base, Karachi
60
Included in a group of retired Pakistan Air Force Freighter Mk.31Ms offered for civil disposal
61
Sold to Ansett-ANA, Melbourne Vic
9.61
Registered AP-AMP for the delivery flight from Pakistan to Australia
16-17.9.61
AP-AMP over-nighted at Alice Springs NT en route Pakistan to Essendon. Pakistan Air Force camouflage
17.9.61
Arrived Essendon

Overhaul at Essendon by Ansett-ANA for Australian civil certification
22.1.62
Added to Register as Freighter Mk.31 VH-BFB: Ansett-M.A.L., Lae, Papua New Guinea
23.1.62
Departed Essendon on delivery to Ansett-MAL: refuelled Sydney, Brisbane, Rockhampton, Cooktown, Port Moresby, Lae to Madang. Arrived Madang 26.1.62. Captains Joe Waxman and Ivan Bennett, engineer Bob Blakely.
1.62
Entered Ansett-MAL service late January, based at Madang
7.1.63
noted Sydney Airport taxying
8.1.64
noted at Essendon after major overhaul by Ansett-ANA, in Ansett-MAL scheme
5.64
Joined in Ansett-MAL service by VH-BFA ferried up from Melburne
20.9.65
noted at Bankstown undergoing overhaul by Hawker De Havilland, which had taken over the former Bristol Aviation Services operation and hangar
11.66
Ansett-MAL and TAA announced they were forced to retire their Bristol Freighters in Papua New Guinea because of low levels of air freight resulting from increased road freight on improved roads, particularly the recently-completed new coastal road to Goroka
1.67
VH-BFB & VH-BFA retired for several weeks, but later in January both returned to service based at Madang.
4.67
Both finally retired at Goroka. Reported locally that the reason was both were reaching their maximum landings allowable prior to major overhaul
6.67
Both noted at Goroka: retired with flaps, ailerons and rudders removed
10.67
VH-BFB & VH-BFA sold to Straits Air Freight Express, New Zealand, an established Bristol Feighter operator carrying cargo and cars between the NZ North and South Islands. The company was now trading as SAFE-Air Ltd, based at Woodbourne NZ.
The two Ansett-MAL Bristols were purchased for spare parts only.
27.10.67
Registered ZK-CVL: SAFE-Air Ltd, Woodbourne NZ
3.11.67
ZK-CVL arrived at Brisbane Airport from New Guinea on ferry flight to NZ.  Still in Ansett-MAL paint scheme but with the company name painted over. Flown by SAFE Air Captains C. G. Fantham and D. A. Williams
5.11.67
Arrived at Woodbourne NZ
6.11.67
Struck-off Australian Register

Immediately dismantled. The wings and centre-section of ZK-CVL were incorporated with the fuselage of ZK-BMA to construct a "new" aircraft assigned registration ZK-CVY.
ZK-CVY Merchant Porter entered SAFE-Air service on 18 December 1967
3.68
ZK-CVL fuselage noted at Woodbourne, complete fuselage less tailplane and wing centre-section behind the cockpit, on its belly in grass. Ansett-MAL paint scheme
5.4.72
Struck-off NZ Register
23.11.75
Bare fuselage unmoved in high grass, fittd with nose doors from another Bristol.
Still in faded Ansett-MAL paint scheme
.81
Broken-up for scrap at Woodbourne NZ


AP-AMP at Essendon October 1961 after delivery from Pakistan.                       Maurice Austin collection


AP-AMP two months later at Essendon, after overhaul to become Ansett-MAL's VH-BFB.
In the background is the Ansett-ANA spares Bristol AP-AMM.           Maurice Austin collection


Essendon January 1964, VH-BFB down from New Guinea for its annual overhaul by Ansett-ANA.
Photo by Geoff Goodall


ZK-CVL at Woodbourne NZ in March 1968 after SAFE Air removed the wings and centre-section.
NZ Railways tarpaulins cover the centre-section area.                         Photo: Allan Bovelt



                      Bristol Freighter Mk.31M              c/n 13175                             Ansett-ANA spare             AP-AMM      
54
Built at Filton, Bristol by Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd. 
Built to Pakistan Air Force order for 38 Freighter Mk.31Ms, which were delivered between
December 1953 to June 1955
14.4.54
Construction competed

Testflown with Class B registration G-18-167
1.6.54
Hand-over by Bristol to Pakistan Air Force as S4412
Name changed in 1956 to Pakistan Air Force
.54
Delivered to Pakistan by Pakistan Air Force crew, in company with three other RPAF Bristols

Operated by Air Transport Command 6 Squadron based at Peshawar
60
Retired at Drigh Road Air Base, Karachi
60
Included in a group of retired Pakistan Air Force Freighter Mk.31Ms offered for civil disposal
61
Sold to Ansett-ANA, Melbourne Vic
61
Registered AP-AMM for the delivery flight from Pakistan to Australia
29.7.61
AP-AMM arrived at Essendon in company with AP-AMN (ex S4416), both in Pakistan Air Force camouflage

AP-AMM held by Ansett-ANA as a spare parts source
9.61
AP-AMM noted at Essendon parked near Ansett-ANA maintenance hangars. Propellers had been removed. "SPARE" hand-painted in red over the camouflage on fuselage side
7.5.62
noted at Essendon, standing on its undercrriage, engines removed
16.5.63
noted at Essendon, fuselage on grass on its belly, undercarriage had been removed 
4.64
stripped of all usable parts during the month
5.64
Broken-up at Essendon for scrap

It has been suggested that VH-BFC was allocated to this spare aircraft, but no documentary evidence has been seen.


AP-AMM at Essendon in May 1962 parked near the Ansett-ANA maintenance hangars
Pakistan serial S4412 on rear fuselage, "SPARE" under the windows.    Photo by Geoff Goodall


A year later, May 1963, AP-AMM had the undercarriage removed by Ansett-ANA for spare parts.
Photo by Geoff Goodall



                            Bristol Freighter Mk.31M       c/n 13176           Leahy Brothers                                           VH-TBA
54 Built at Old Mixom Aerodrome, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset by Western Airways, as subcontractors to Bristol Aeroplane Co.
Built to Pakistan Air Force order for 38 Freighter Mk.31Ms, which were delivered between
December 1953 to June 1955
6.9.54 First flight Weston-super-Mare
4.10.54
Completed fitting out at Filton

Testflown with Class B registration G-18-168
11.2.55 Hand-over by Bristol to Pakistan Air Force as S4427
.55
Delivered to Pakistan by Pakistan Air Force crew, in company with S4425 and S4426

Operated by Air Transport Command 6 Squadron based at Peshawar
60
Retired at Drigh Road Air Base, Karachi
60 Included in a group of retired Pakistan Air Force Freighter Mk.31Ms offered for civil disposal
.61 Sold to Trans Australia Airlines, Melbourne Vic
.61 Registered AP-AME for the delivery flight from Pakistan to Australia
7.5.61 Departed Karachi on ferry flight to Sydney, first night Delhi.
TAA ferry crew Captains Ron Black and Tom Bennett, Ground Engineer Alby Bonneface, with experienced Bristol operator Lionel Van Praag.
8.5.61 Delhi-Calcutta. Delayed at Calcutta due to a cyclone
10.5.61 Calcutta-Bangkok.
11.5.61 Bangkok-Singapore
12.5.61 Singapore (Paya Lebar) to Singapore (Changi). Maintenance by RNZAF ground crew at Changi
13.5.61 Changi-Singapore (Paya Lebar)
16.5.61 Singapore-Djakarta
17.5.61 Djakarta-Darwin
18.5.61 Darwin-Brisbane
19.5.61 Brisbane to Bankstown Airport, Sydney.  Total flying time for ferry: 46 hrs 40 mins

Overhaul by Bristol Aviation Services at Bankstown for civil certification as a Mk.31.
Completed painted in TAA Sunbird Services colour scheme, named Leahy Brothers (pioneer explorers of the New Guinea Highlands)
1.8.61 Added to Register VH-TBA: Trans Australia Airlines, Lae, Papua New Guinea
1.8.61
Departed Sydney Airport on delivery to New Guinea, crew TAA Captains Ron Black and Alan Thompson.  Remained at Brisbane for 3 days
4.8.61
Brisbane-Mackay-Cairns
5.8.61
Cairns-Port Moresby-Lae
6.8.61
TAA date for service entry based at Madang
11.66
TAA and Ansett-MAL announced they were forced to retire their Bristol Freighters in Papua New Guinea because of low levels of air freight resulting from increased road freight on improved roads, particularly the recently-completed new coastal road to Goroka
1.67
Withdrawn from service at Lae. Parked with TAA markings painted over.
3.67
Both VH-TBA & TBB parked retired at Lae. Engines run up occasionally
14.5.68
Change of ownership: Australian Aircraft Sales (ACT) Pty Ltd, Sydney Airport NSW
17.5.68
Sold to Air Express (Holdings) Ltd, Archerfield Airport, Brisbane Qld
VH-TBB was sold by AAS to Air Express the same day, VH-TBA had reached its fatigue life limit and was included in the sale as a spare parts source
20.7.68
Struck-off Register
18.8.68
noted parked unmoved at Lae, TAA markings painted over

DCA granted a ferry permit for VH-TBA's delivery from Lae to Brisbane
10.9.68
Arrived at Archerfield Qld on delivery to Air Express
7.12.69
Damaged at Archerfield by a violent windstorm while parked outside. Jetair's Bristol Freighters VH-SJG & SJQ parked outside the Air Express hangar were blown together by the same storm
1.70
noted at Archerfield, on its belly with engines, undercarriage and control surfaces removed
1.71
unmoved, on belly stripped. Still basic TAA scheme. Also 11.5.72
15.8.74
last time reported, on belly in the same location at Archerfield
75
broken-up for scrap


VH-TBA at Lae, PNG in August 1968 after being retired here with TAA markings painted over.
A month later it was flown to Brisbane.                                       Photo by Roger McDonald


VH-TBA at Archerfield 10 September 1968, the day it arrived from New Guinea on delivery to Air Express
Photo by Dave Thollar


VH-TBA at Archerfield January 1971, dumped after stripped of all usable parts.          Photo by Gordon Reid



                       Bristol Freighter Mk.31M          c/n 13187        William MacGregor                                       VH-TBB
54
Built at Old Mixom Aerodrome, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset by Western Airways, as subcontractors to Bristol Aeroplane Co.
Built to Pakistan Air Force order for 38 Freighter Mk.31Ms, which were delivered between
December 1953 to June 1955
19.11.54
First flight

Testflown with Class B registration G-18-179
21.12.54
Completed fit-out at Filton
1.3.55
Hand-over by Bristol to Pakistan Air Force as S4432
.55
Delivered to Pakistan by Pakistan Air Force crew, in company with S4431 and S4433

Operated by Air Transport Command 6 Squadron based at Peshawar
60
Retired at Drigh Road Air Base, Karachi
60
Included in a group of retired Pakistan Air Force Freighter Mk.31Ms offered for civil disposal
61
Sold to Trans Australia Airlines, Melbourne Vic
61
Registered AP-AMF for the delivery flight from Pakistan to Australia
17.5.61
Departed Karachi on delivery flight to Sydney. TAA Captains Jim Betts and P. McLaughlin, with experienced Bristol pilot Lionel Van Praag again assisting
26.5.61
AP-AMF arrived at Bankstown Airport, Sydney, Pakistan Air Force camouflage
30.5.61
Added to Register as VH-TBB: Trans Australia Airlines, Lae, Papua New Guinea

Used by TAA for crew training prior to commencing civil conversion.  Flown in camouflage with VH-TBB painted in a white rectangle on tail.
8.61
Overhaul by Bristol Aviation Services at Bankstown for civil certification as Freighter Mk.31.
Completed painted in TAA Sunbird Services colour scheme, named William MacGregor
(MacGregor was the first Administrator of British New Guinea)
1.9.61
Departed Bankstown on delivery to New Guinea
21.9.61
TAA "entered service" date
4.7.65
noted at Bankstown having maintenance at Hawker De Havilland, which had taken over the Bristol Aviation Services operation and hangar
11.66
TAA and Ansett-MAL announced they were forced to retire their Bristol Freighters in Papua New Guinea because of low levels of air freight resulting from increased road freight on improved roads, particularly the recently-completed new coastal road to Goroka
1.67
Withdrawn from service at Lae. Parked with TAA markings painted over
24.2.67
TAA "Retired from service" date
4.67
Unmoved parked outside at Lae
1.68
VH-TBA & TBB inspected by Mr. Lamb of Lamb Airways, Canada.  Sale was not concluded because of the cost of a mandatory wing overhaul which would be required prior to delivery
14.5.68
Change of ownership: Australian Aircraft Sales (ACT) Pty Ltd, Sydney Airport NSW
17.5.68
Change of ownership: Air Express (Holdings) Ltd, Archerfield Airport, Brisbane Qld
14.6.68
Arrived at Archerfield Qld on delivery from New Guinea
17.7.68
noted Archerfield being repainted in Air Express markings after an overhaul by Air Express
31.7.68
VH-TBB flew its first run on the Air Express scheduled overnight freight service  Brisbane-Sydney-Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane for freight forwarding company Mayne Nickless
1.69
VH-TBB and VH-ADL now painted with "Mayne Nickless" titles
7.12.69
VH-TBB received minor damage while parked at Archerfield when a wind storm caused it to move and strike parked light aircraft. The same storm damaged Bristols VH-TBA, VH-SJG & VH-SJQ parked outside the Air Express hangar.
10.70
Report: Air Express are still carrying good loads into Essendon from Brisbane as well as regular extra trips from Essendon to Tasmania
11.70
Mayne Nickless contract with Air Express expired. Air Express stated that it would concentrate the Bristol Freighters on developing freight work in Queensland and to New Guinea.
20.1.71
noted at Archerfield, freshly repainted white with two-tone blue "Air Express"titles
17.11.71
Arrived Essendon to take up residence alongside the Air Express Bristols VH-SJG & VH-SJQ on freight contracts, mostly to Tasmania
1.11.72
noted at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
1.73
Wet lease to Bush Pilots Airways, Cairns Qld
Retained its Air Express titles. Extra freight capacity was needed during the annual Wet Season when inland dirt roads are closed to road transport because of monsoonal rain. 
3.1.73
noted at Cairns, Air Express markings, but operated for Bush Pilots Airways. Operated local work in addition to a freight service between Cairns and Port Moresby
18.1.73
noted at Port Moresby
23.10.73
Forced landing at Cooktown Qld enroute Port Moresby-Cairns, starboard engine shut down and port engine overheating. No damage.
26.10.73
Change of owner's name: Air Express Ltd, Archerfield Airport, Brisbane Qld
11.8.74
noted at Cairns, Qld, based here.  No longer on lease to Bush Pilots Airways
5.75
After the loss of Bristol VH-SJQ ditching in Bass Strait, Air Express decided to drop their Cairns-New Guinea charter operations with VH-TBB & VH-ADL, and base them at Essendon with VH-SJG.
21.11.75
Flew a charter Essendon-Perth WA, returned to Essendon 24.11.75
2.76
Air Express Ltd and BBA Air Cargo Pty Ltd (formerly Brain & Brown Airfreighters) merged into a joint operation based Essendon, managed by Mr. William Astling.
Signet Insurance Group had gained financial control of both companies.
21.3.76
made flypasts at Berwick Vic airshow
8.2.77
Last flight Launceston-Essendon, withdrawn from service. Captain Ivan Bennett
Total airframe time:12,204 hrs 30 mins. Total landings 8,996
24.2.77
noted at Essendon, port engine removed
14.9.77
Struck-off Register as withdrawn from service
2.10.77
noted at Essendon, parts stripped
8.10.77
noted at Essednon, parked in the northern "graveyard" aircraft storage area. Unmoved 12.77
10.6.78
Air Express advertised Bristol VH-SJG for sale, also VH-TBB suitable as a museum exhibit
18.9.78
VH-TBB towed across Essendon Airport to the Airport Fire Service
14.12.80
moved by road from Essendon Airport to Melbourne (Tullamarine) Airport. Unloaded at the Tullamarine Airport fire practice training ground, adjacent to the threshold to Runway 09.
Piaggio P166 VH-PQA was also at the practice ground

VH-TBB languished on the fire practice ground, later having "VH-JIM" hand-painted on the tail
6.04
Broken-up for scrap. Carted away by truck from Tullamarine Airport


Bankstown June 1961 while used for TAA crew training, prior to civil overhaul.              Photo by Eric Allen


Bankstown in the same parking spot four years later, down from TAA in New Guinea for a major overhaul.  
Photo by Steve Gibson



Freshly repainted in Air Express scheme, at Archerfield in September 1968.              Photo by Geoff Goodall


TAA's VH-TBA & TBB together again at Archerfield September 1968.              Photo by Roger McDonald


Archerfield February 1969, repainted again for the Mayne Nickless nightly service Brisbane-Melbourne return
Photo by Roger McDonald



                         Bristol Freighter Mk.31M              c/n 13188                                     TAA spare      AP-AML, (VH-TBC)
54
Built at Filton, Bristol by Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd. 
Built to Pakistan Air Force order for 38 Freighter Mk.31Ms, which were delivered between
December 1953 to June 1955
7.1.55
Construction completed
55
Testflown with Class B registration G-18-180
2.4.55
Hand-over by Bristol to Pakistan Air Force as S4434
.55
Delivered to Pakistan by Pakistan Air Force crew

Operated by Air Transport Command 6 Squadron based at Peshawar
60
Retired at Drigh Road Air Base, Karachi
60
Included in a group of retired Pakistan Air Force Freighter Mk.31Ms offered for civil disposal
61
Sold to Trans Australia Airlines, Melbourne Vic
61
Registered AP-AML for the delivery flight from Pakistan to Australia
17.7.61
Departed Karachi on delivery to Sydney, under command of TAA Captain Ivan Neal.
Ferried in company with AP-AMK (VH-TBD).  Both night stopped at Delhi
18.7.61
Delhi-Calcutta
19.7.61
Calcutta-Bangkok
20.7.61
Bangkok-Singapore
22.7.61
Singapore-Djakarta-Den Pasar
23.7.61
Den Pasar to Darwin, with AP-AMK
25.7.61
Arrived Sydney Airport.
61
Registration VH-TBC reserved, but Not Taken Up. TAA stripped this aircraft for spare parts
61-65
Stored dismantled in TAA hangar at Sydney Airport, in Pakistan Air Force camouflage, with an faded original name Expectant Memsahib under the cockpit
.65
Broken-up for scrap at Sydney Airport


AP-AML during its delivery flight from Pakistan.  The TAA men are unfortunately not identified.
The observation windows in the nose doors can be clearly seen.           Geoff Goodall collection


AP-AML stored dismantled in TAA's maintenance hangar at Sydney Airport,  January 1964.
Photo by Geoff Goodall


                         Bristol Freighter Mk.31M              c/n 13191                                  TAA spare     AP-AMK, (VH-TBD)
54-55
Built at Old Mixom Aerodrome, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset by Western Airways, as subcontractors to Bristol Aeroplane Co.
Built to Pakistan Air Force order for 38 Freighter Mk.31Ms, which were delivered between
December 1953 to June 1955
21.2.55
First flight at Weston-super-Mare
55
Testflown with Class B registration G-18-183
29.3.55
Completed fit-out at Filton
2.4.55
Hand-over by Bristol to Pakistan Air Force as S4437
.55
Delivered to Pakistan by Pakistan Air Force crew, in company with S4434 and S4435

Operated by Air Transport Command 6 Squadron based at Peshawar
60
Retired at Drigh Road Air Base, Karachi
60
Included in a group of retired Pakistan Air Force Freighter Mk.31Ms offered for civil disposal
28.6.61
Sold to Trans Australia Airlines, Melbourne Vic
6.61
Registered AP-AMK for the delivery flight from Pakistan to Australia
3.7.61
Local test flight at Drigh Road Air Force Base, Karachi. TAA Captain J. A. P. Boyd
4.7.61
Test flight 90 minutes Karachi
17.7.61
AP-AMK departed Karachi on delivery to Sydney, TAA Captains Keith Galloway and
J.A.P. "Pappy" Boyd, with engineer G. Myers. 
Ferried in company with AP-AML (VH-TBC).  Both night stopped at Delhi
18.7.61
Delhi-Calcutta
19.7.61
Calcutta-Bangkok
20.7.61
Bangkok-Singapore
22.7.61
Singapore-Djakarta-Den Pasar
23.7.61
Den Pasar-Darwin, with AP-AML
24.7.61
Darwin-Bankstown direct, 9 hr 40 mins. Total time for ferry: 44 hr 25 min
61
Registration VH-TBD reserved, but Not Taken Up. Aircraft to be used for spare parts
16.8.61
TAA Engineering memo states: "S4437/AP-AML now at Bristol factory at Bankstown. Utilization still undecided but now most likely to be used as an operational spare."
61-63
Parked on its undercarriage with engines removed at Bristol Aviation Services hangar at Bankstown on behalf of TAA. Mostly parked outside.
1.63
noted Bankstown, inside Bristol hangar, engines and parts removed. Also 18.5.63
late 63
AP-AMK and Catalina VH-AGB both owned by TAA and parked at Bristol Aviation Services apron were towed across Bankstown Airport to storage parking area alongside Hawker De Havilland's military hangars.
63-68
Bristol and Catalina parked side by side unmoved
3.68
Broken-up for scrap at Bankstown.  Bristol and Catalina had been removed by 5.68


AP-AMK parked engineeless at Bristol Aviation Services, Bankstown in 1962. 
VH-TBA & TBB received civil conversions in that hangar.        Photo by Greg Banfield



AP-AMK at Bankstown in November 1964.                                                     Photo by Greg Banfield



                        Bristol Freighter Mk.31M              c/n 13193             Tasmanian Devil                                  VH-ADL
55
Built at Old Mixom Aerodrome, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset by Western Airways, as subcontractors to Bristol Aeroplane Co.
Built to Pakistan Air Force order for 38 Freighter Mk.31Ms, which were delivered between
December 1953 to June 1955
20.5.55
First flight at Weston-super-Mare

Testflown with Class B registration G-18-185
21.6.55
Completed fit-out at Filton
29.6.55
Hand-over by Bristol to Pakistan Air Force as S4438
29.6.55
Handover ceremony to mark the last aircraft of the order, in presence of the Pakistan High Commission in London, His Excellency Mohammed Ikramullah
.55
Delivered to Pakistan by Pakistan Air Force crew

Operated by Air Transport Command 6 Squadron based at Peshawar
60
Retired at Drigh Road Air Base, Karachi
60
Included in a group of retired Pakistan Air Force Freighter Mk.31Ms offered for civil disposal
61
Sold to Pacific Aviation Ltd, Archerfield Airport, Brisbane Qld
61
Registered AP-AMD for the delivery flight from Pakistan to Australia
4.61
AP-AMD ferried from Karachi to Australia, flown by Pacific Aviation Chief Pilot Lionel Van Praag and company General Manager Arthur L. McLachlan

Photos show arrival at Archerfield in Paklistan camouflage, parked outside Air Express hangar.
It then continued to Bankstown

Civil overhaul at Bankstown Airport, Sydney by Bristol Aviation Services
11.5.61
Australian Registration Application: Pacific Aviation Ltd, Archerfield Qld, signed by
A.L.McLachlan, General Manager
9.61
noted at Bankstown under overhaul inside Bristol Aviation Services hangar
13.12.61
DCA Ferry Permit issued for a flight Bankstown-Archerfield.

Photo of all metal VH-ADL at Archerfield at the Air Express hangar, carrying Bristol Hercules engines was probably taken at this time. Either delivering or collecting spare Hercules, possibly brought from Pakistan
17.1.62
VH-ADL noted at Bankstown outside Bristol hangar, all metallic with black registration
16.2.62
Added to Register VH-ADL: Pacific Aviation Ltd, Archerfield Qld,
16.2.62
Australian CofA issued as Freighter Mk.31
2.62
Entered service on cargo charter work, blue & white with "Pacific Aviation" in red on fuselage, "P.A.L." on nose
8.9.62
noted at Launceston Tasmania loading freight
.63
Withdrawn from service, parked at Archerfield Qld. "Pacific Aviation" titles. 
Reportedly due lack of continuous freight work.  Unmoved 5.3.64, 24.6.64, 22.8.64, 23.9.64
6.5.64
Struck-off Register as withdrawn from service
12.64
Advertised for sale by Central Aircraft Exchange, Sydney: total airframe time 2,100 hrs
.65
Sale negotiated by associate company Air Express Ltd, Archerfield to Straits Air Freight Express - SAFE Ltd, New Zealand.
This company operated Bristol Freighters between the North and South Islands of NZ and by 1965 owned 9 Bristols.
6.65
Under overhaul at Archerfield by Air Express Ltd, to prepare for ferry flight to NZ.
Scheduled departure date 29.6.65
26.6.65
Badly damaged in forced landing near Pimpama, 30 miles south of Brisbane Qld.
Aircraft was on its first test flight from Archerfield after overhaul, flown by Captain D.Biggs with A.L.McLachlan (Manager of Air Express Ltd) as radio operator.  Forced landing in a farmer's arrowroot crop near Beaudesert. No injuries.

DCA accident report: "During a local test flight which involved shutting down each of the engines in turn, rough running and power losses were experienced in both engines. The pilot carried out a forced landing in a farm field and ran through two fences and a drainage channel, collapsing the port undercarriage. It is probable that the engine malfunctions were the results of carburettor ice accretion and this situation was not appreciated by the pilot."

Left at crash site, with a guard, for a week during DCA investigation. Then dismantled and moved by road back to Archerfield Airport, Brisbane

Sale to SAFE Ltd cancelled
3.66
noted at Archerfield under rebuild in Air Express hangar. Being fitted with replacement nose doors without military observation windows. Stated at the time that they were from VH-AAH, held as spares after being salvaged from its forced landing in December 1961
(VH-ADL's original nose doors were seen in a Brisbane scrapyard in 8.67)
23.5.66
noted at Archerfield, rebuild completed, outside Air Express hangar
5.6.66
noted at Archerfield outside Air Express hangar, "Air Express" titles
11.6.66
Restored to Civil Register VH-ADL: Air Express (Holdings) Ltd, Archerfield Qld
22.6.66
VH-ADL departed Archerfield with a load of 4.5 tons of Queensland bananas on the first trial service on a contract with International Parcel Express Co - IPEC.
Because DCA refused a direct Brisbane-Melbourne service to protect the Two Airline Policy, IPEC's goods for Melbourne were flown in VH-ADL to Cowra NSW, where transferred to IPEC trucks which carried it to Melbourne  by road.
This was part of on-going legal action by IPEC against the Government's refusal to allow their own freight services, for which a DC-4 G-ARWK had been painted in IPEC Air markings in England. Import permit refused by DCA.
6.66
noted at Brisbane Airport "IPEC"titles, noted at Archerfield 9.66
23.12.66
noted at Launceston on a freight charter during a Brain & Brown Airfreighters pilot strike.
25.3.67
noted at Archerfield Air Express"titles
5.67
parked idle at Archerfield after termination of the IPEC contract
16.1.68
noted at Sydney Airport. Also 27.1.68
23.2.68
flew a load of foodstuffs from Archerfield to Mount Isa Qld due heavy rains closing roads
20.6.68
testflown at Archerfield, first flight for several months. Being prepared for a new contract with freight-forwarder Mayne Nickless. VH-TBB arrived Archerfield 14.6.68 from New Guinea on delivery to Air Express for same contract.
1.7.68
VH-ADL commenced the Mayne Nickless contract, nightly runs Brisbane-Sydney-Melbourne and return. VH-TBB joined the run later in July
1.69
VH-ADL & VH-TBB both had "Mayne Nickless" titles as well as "Air Express".
10.70
Report: Air Express are still carrying good loads into Essendon from Brisbane as well as regular extra trips from Essendon to Tasmania
11.70
Mayne Nickless contract with Air Express expired. Air Express stated that it would concentrate the Bristol Freighters on developing freight work in Queensland and to New Guinea.
1.72
VH-ADL wet-leased to Queensland Pacific Airways Pty Ltd, Cairns Qld.
Retained its Air Express titles. Extra freight capacity was needed during the annual Wet Season when inland dirt roads are closed to road transport because of monsoonal rain. 

This freight company was formed in 1969 as Queensland Pacific Trading Co Pty Ltd at Cairns, using DC-3s leased from East West Airlines.  A variety of cargo work was operated in north Queensland and to New Guinea. The company name was changed in October 1971 to Queensland Pacific Airways Pty Ltd when two former Qantas DC-3s were purchased and the company expanded to open a base in Brisbane. However in May 1972 QPA was taken over by Bush Pilots Airways Ltd, Cairns.
21.1.72
noted at Archerfield
26.6.72
noted at Brisbane Airport, with titles "Air Express" and "Bush Pilots Airways"
4.1.73
noted at Port Moresby
10.1.73
noted at Mount Hagen
29.3.74
flew a freight charter Essendon-Perth. Returned to Essendon next day.
7.74
operating regular runs Cairns-Port Moresby-Mount Hagen carrying cars
5.75
After the loss of Bristol VH-SJQ ditching in Bass Strait, Air Express decided to drop their Cairns-New Guinea charter operations with VH-TBB & VH-ADL, and base them at Essendon with VH-SJG.
.75
Change of owner's name: Air Express Ltd, Essendon Airport, Melbourne Vic
2.76
Air Express Ltd and BBA Air Cargo Pty Ltd (formerly Brain & Brown Airfreighters) merged into a joint operation based Essendon, managed by Mr. William Astling.
Signet Insurance Group had gained financial control of both companies.
3.3.76
Flew a freight charter Essendon-Perth. Departed Perth 5.3.76 on the return trip.
20.11.77
Made flypasts at a Point Cook Vic airshow
2.78
Based Essendon, regular night freight services to Tasmania
6.78
Repainted in a new Air Express blue & white scheme simialer to that applied to their DC-4s.
VH-ADL was given name Tasmanian Devil
17.8.79
Last flight King Island-Essendon. Retired at Essendon.
Crew for the last Bristol Freighter flight in Australia were Captain Len Veger, F/O Barry Miller.
Total airframe time 14,877 hrs 55 mins, total landings 7,635.
Air Express/BBA Air Cargo ceased operations on this date due financial pressure.
The two Air Express DC-4s VH-EDA and VH-EDB had been retired several days earlier

Parked at Essendon northern "graveyard" aircraft storage area
8.2.80
Unmoved Essendon but in good external condition, full Air Express scheme.
25.2.80
Auction sale at Essendon of Air Express equipment.
VH-ADL sold "as is" for $10K to Dwen Airmotive Pty Ltd, Auckland NZ

Dwen Airmotive was an aircraft sales and spare parts operation which handled several NZ Bristol Freighter sales.
22.10.82
Unmoved at Essendon, but in good external condition, full Air Express scheme.
10.82
Mr. Dwen of Dwen Airmotive visited Melbourne to inspect VH-ADL and gain publicity that he was willing to consider any offers for the Bristol.
82-86
Unmoved Essendon in northern open storage area. Became weather-beaten
12.8.83
Struck-off Civil Register
.86
Purchased "as is" by Ross Chaplin, Deniliquin NSW
6.86
Dismantled at Essendon, departed by road transport to Deniliquin.
8.10.89
noted at Deniliquin Airport, parked outside, wings outboard of the engines laying in the grass alongside.

Moved by road from Deniliquin to Wangaratta, donated to Air World, Wangaratta Vic.
Assembled and displayed at the rear of the large igloo museum hangar
1.02
Airworld closed in late January due falling visitor numbers and costs.
Negotiations with aircraft dealer over the disposal of the remaining aircraft including VH-ADL
.04
Acquired by Australian National Aviation Museum, Moorabbin Airport, Melbourne
3.7.04
Arrived Moorabbin from Wangaratta by road dismantled on a low-loader truck.
Re-assembled and displayed complete, in the final Air Express blue and white paint scheme, retaining the name Tasmanian Devil

Current


Bankstown 1961, rolled outside part-way through its civil overhaul, after camouflage paint was removed.
The ferry registration AP-AMD has been incorrectly repainted on fuselage as "AP-ADM"


Richard McLean took this rare shot of VH-ADL being flown on a ferry permit in December 1961 prior to
formal registration and being painted in Pacific Aviation scheme. 
It is seen at Archerfield, unloading Bristol Hercules engines at the parent company Air Express hangar.



VH-ADL on completion at Bankstown early 1962, parked on the Bristol Aviation Services ramp.
Pacific Aviation painted on rear fuselage in red.  The observation windows are retained in the nose doors.
Photo by Roger McDonald


VH-ADL starting up at Sydney Airport in December 1962.                         Photo by Greg Banfield


Forced landing on a farm at Pimpama, south of Brisbane on 26 June 1965.          Geoff Goodall collection


This newspaper picture shows the feathered starboard prop, collapsed port undercarriage and guard on duty.
The nose doors still have the military observation windows.



                      VH-ADL after rebuild, at Brisbane-Eagle Farm in August 1966.  Most cabin windows have been covered.                        
Photo by Roger McDonald



At Essendon 1969 in new paint scheme, with Mayne Nickless markings.             Photo by Roger McDonald


Eagle Farm June 1972, in new Air Express paintwork and temporary "Bush Pilots Airways".
Photo by Roger McDonald


Saved from the scrap man. VH-ADL "Tasmanian Devil" at Deniliquin NSW October 1989, outer wings in the grass.
It was later to be displayed at two air museums.                            Photo by Roger McDonald


6. VISITING BRISTOL FREIGHTERS:

- 1948-1949:  the British airline Silver City Airways sent Bristol Freighters to SE Asia and Australia in support of extensive Shell Oil Co exploration in Netherland East Indies and nearby territories.  The airline's Australian associate Silver City Airways (Australia) Pty Ltd at Broken Hill NSW (affiliated with The Zinc Corporation) was operating its DC-3s VH-BHB, BHD & BHE on long term leases to Shell Oil Co. These DC-3s were flown on regular charters between Australia, Singapore, Manila, and Ambon, often by Qantas Empire Airways crews.
Silver City Airways' Bristol Freighter G-AIME was recorded in Australia on three occasions:
- June 1948: arrived Broken Hill from England with freight
- 21 August 1948: arrived Mascot from Ambon, 6 crew, 18 passengers, Captain Cockron
- 21 January 1949: arrived Mascot from Darwin via Charleville, departed next day for Darwin


A rare picture of Silver City Airways Bristol G-AIME at Darwin in 1948. Note the crew member acting as
taxying observer in the cockpit roof roof hatch.                                        Photo: David Vincent collection

- December 1956:  At the end of the Melbourne Olympic Games, three Pakistan Air Force Freighter Mk.31s troop transporters were flown to Melbourne to collect the competing Pakistani athletes.  Inbound, the aircraft flew from Darwin direct to Adelaide for a night stop. On the last leg to Melbourne one Bristol reported a rough running engine and all three diverted to nearby Nhill Vic.  While taxying to park, a Bristols' main wheel broke through the old RAAF wartime tarmac. Local farmers tractors would not have had the traction to pull the heavy aircraft free, so Australian Charles Miller, who had hitched a ride from Darwin, got a lift into town.  He persuaded the Shire Office to send out the town grader, which successfully pulled the Bristol on to firm tarmac - with most of the town's population watching on.
       After maintenance on the troublesome engine, the three Freighters continued their flight to Essendon and home to Karachi.


The three Pakistan Air Force Freighter 31s at Adelaide Airport on 22 December 1956.  
Leading the line is S4421 coded "Y".                              Photo by Geoff Goodall


- 1958-1960:  British independent airline BKS Air Transport carried out a number of Bristol Freighter flights from UK to Woomera. The company gained a British Ministry contract to deliver sections of Black Knight rockets to be tested at Woomera. These were large launcher vessels for the Blue Streak missile. The Bristol Freighter was the only type capable of carrying the rocket sections, which because of the secrecy of the program were manifested as "agricultural machinery". The Bristols were fitted with 100 gallon extra fuel tanks inside the nose doors, and took an unudual route to avoid the risk of a forced landing in politically sensitive countries - the final leg into Australia being via Philippines and New Guinea to Darwin, then Alice Springs and Woomera.  Each delivery flight took an anerage of 12 days return, and the operation was often supported by Dan Air Avro Yorks. (The compiler remembers Dan Air Yorks at Adelaide Airport at this time)
          BKS had a single Freighter 31 G-AMLJ which almost certainly flew on the Woomera contract, but the company also had several lower powered Freighter Mk.21s which may have been used.  There were to be a total 22 Black Knight launches at Woomera.

Other visiting Bristols include:  
- civil delivery flights to Straits Air Freight Express (SAFE Air) in New Zealand
- Royal New Zealand Air Force, transiting to/from NZ on deployments to Malaysian bases


RNZAF Freighter 31 NZ5909 at Perth on 14 March 1964, one of several on long-range NAVEX from NZ
This pleasing scheme was later replaced by tactical camouflage.               Photo by Alistair Coutts

           *                       *                      *                    *                    *                    *                 *                    *                  *                   *


FOOTNOTE: 
A young John Hopton was strolling around Essendon Airport, Melbourne in June 1959, when Ansett-ANA's Bristol VH-INJ Pokana
turned on to a nearby taxiway. John took this sequence as the Bristol came past, very close. An indication of those relaxed days is the
Captain's cheery wave from the open cockpit side window. A few months later VH-INJ was repainted in Ansett-ANA colour scheme.
Photos: The Collection p0850-0201 to p0850-0203










References
- Australian Civil Aircraft Register, Department of Civil Aviation and its successors
- DCA aircraft files, Accession MP113/1, National Archives of Australia, Melbourne
- DCA Annual Aircraft Accident Summaries 1956-1970
- British Civil Reguister: g-info website
- RAAF Status Cards (form E/E.88) A81-1 to A81-4, RAAF Historical, Canberra
- Airlines and Aircraft of the Ansett Group 1921-2002: Fred Niven, Edition 9, disk
- National Library of Australia - Trove newspaper archive website
- The Bristol 170, Derek A. King, Air Britain Publications, 2011
- Flypast A record of Aviation in Australia, Neville Parnell & Trevor Boughton, AGPS 1988
- British Civil Aircraft Since 1919, A.J.Jackson, Putnam, London, Second Edition 1973
- British Independent Airlines since 1946, A.C. Merton-Jones, LAAS/Mersyside Aviation Society, 1976
- British Military Aircraft Serials 1911-1979, Bruce Robertson, Patrick Stephens, Cambridge 1979
- Balus - The Aeroplane in Papua New Guinea, Volume 1, James Sinclair, Robert Brown &Assoc, 1986
- Balus - The Aeroplane in Papua New Guinea, Volume II, James Sinclair, Robert Brown &Assoc, 1988
- Aerial Agriculture in Australia, Derrick Rolland, Aerial Agriculture Association of Australia, 1996
- Pacific Island Aviation Society, New Guinea operators, Allan Bovelt
- Aviation Historical Society of Australia Journals, 1959-1975
- Air Britain journals, various, 1948-1970
- Australian Air Log, monthly, Sydney & Adelaide 1965-1968
- Classic Wings magazine: editor Graham Orphan: various references to B170s
- A Touch of Nostalgia, Charles Miller, Aviation Heritage, September 2014, Aviation Historical Society of Australia
- Queensland Pacific Airways, Roger McDonald, Aviation Heritage September 2014, Aviation Historical Society of Australia
- Jetair Australia,
Roger McDonald, Aviation Heritage March 2004, Aviation Historical Society of Australia
- Accident Investigation at ARL, J.L.Kepert, Aviation Heritage September 2012, Aviation Historical Society of Australia
- Letter to the Editor, Bristol A81-2 crash, Roy Scaife, Aviation Heritage December 2012, Aviation Historical Society of Australia
- Australia's Air Beef Operations, Nick Stroud, The Aviation Historian magazine No.11, April 2015


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